Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lanyards, Both Useful and Fancy

Lanyards are not just for Boy Scouts, you know  - you probably use one to hold your keys sometimes, and if you've ever been to a conference, you carry your photo ID on one. If you carry a wristlet purse, the strap is technically a kind of lanyard because historically they were worn either around the neck or the wrist.

But back in 1916 - when this ad ran in Boys' Life magazine - were de rigueur for all good Scouts, along with other 1916 musts like Improved Scout Leggings and Malted Milk Lunch Tablets to keep you going on those long hikes in the woods.

Did you ever wonder where lanyards came from, and why? The French word "lanière" was used to refer to a strap or rope in the late medieval period, and by the 17th century lanyard meant a rope used to fasten things down on a ship. By the Victorian era, lanyards were used to carry a knife, pistol or whistle by soldiers who wore them under their uniforms, over one shoulder rather than around the neck. Ceremonial lanyards were fancy colored braids worn under officers' epaulets (shoulder decorations) in the 19th century - apparently Napoleon really liked them (especially the very fancy kind). The picture on your right is an 1818 portrait of Czar Alexander II of Russia (from Wikimedia Commons) wearing some gold braid ceremonial lanyards. But of course he was not about to sling a whistle onto them - these were strictly for show. These kinds of lanyards are still made for military dress uniforms today.

The more common variety of modern lanyard, though, is much closer to its simpler ancestors - something that keeps a small important personal item firmly in place, so that you don't drop or lose it. They can be made out of almost anything - nylon, silk, leather, and all kinds of cord, either braided or unbraided. I have several I use for keys - they are really handy when you are walking or hiking for fitness and don't want to carry a lot of stuff in a bag. If only I could find a few Malted Milk Lunch Tablets to put in my pocket, I'd be ready for anything; I'll skip the Improved Boy Scout Leggings, though.

NOTE: This is a post for Namify, however all the views and points are my own.

1 comment:

Shay said...

Still worn in the military today but only by general's aides and known (in the US Marines at least) as the "pogey rope."

Why I don't know...pogey is naval slang for candy and pogue for a useless desk-jockey.