Antique Hair Comb Early 19th Century Pressed Horn Mantilla Type
SIZE: 6 ins h x 6 ins w (15 x 15 cms)
CONDITION: 4th tine from right has a small tip broken off. These old horn combs are very fragile and are most often found with a number of broken prongs. Apart from a small nibble to the bottom of one prong on the right this lovely comb has all its tines nicely pointed and in good condition.
MATERIAL: natural horn
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1820s to 1840s
This very beautiful pressed horn hair comb probably dates from the early 19th century. I would place it at about the 1820s to 1830s from its resemblance to the very large combs which one sees in early American portraits. It can be compared with the watercolour portrait shown in picture 9 which shows a young woman in the costume of the 1830s. Her hair is dressed in the high fashionable coiffure of the day and is backed up by a high topped comb which can be seen from all angles. Horn was a very popular material for such combs, which were often carved or decorated with great beauty and skill.
In this example the horn has been left in its natural mottled and parti-coloured hue but has been clarified to render it semi transparent and stained a deep yellowish brown. It has also been impressed with a graceful design resembling leaves and foliage which can only be seen to advantage when the comb is held at a certain angle to the light.
Horn is one of the most popular materials used in 19th century combs. It was a material that could be obtained cheaply as a bi-product of the meat industry. It could also be subjected to various decorative effects. It could be clarified to obtain a beautiful semi-transparent effect, or deep dyed various colours. Because of its plastic qualities horn could also, as in this example, be treated in a steam press to attain a moulded appearance. Finally, horn could be carved and pierced into items of lace like delicacy.
At this period horn workings were done in small local factories and this example was probably produced along such lines. As the 19th century advanced the industry was mechanised, and combs were stamped out in their hundreds in large manufactories using standardised moulds and patterns.
Item ID: A12-09-003
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Gender: Female, Age Group: Adult, Color: brown, Size: 6 ins h x 6 ins w
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