A very beautiful Art Nouveau period hair comb with applied gilding.
CONDITION: good vintage condition.
SIZE: 6½ ins h x 2½ ins w (16 x 6 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s to 1910s.
This lovely hair accessory is made in an asymmetric style which became fashionable in the late 19th century. The hair ornaments of this period are very much lighter and more delicate than the massive and important examples which we see in the mid Victorian period. This is in tune with simpler method of dressing the hair and a decline in the use of false hair to pad out natures deficiencies.
The lines of the comb are accentuated by a panel of openwork along the top border. However the chief means of decoration takes the form of bunches of grapes with the design incised into the base material. Gliding in two shades of gold is then applied to accentuate the design.
Combs like this were worn as shown in picture 5 which is taken from a contemporary advertisement for hair combs from a French magazine of the early 20th century. We can see that the sitters are wearing a similar wedge shape combs which are placed at an angle within the chignon so that the beautiful openwork heading stands out proud..
Combs like this are often described by dealers as "tortoiseshell" but in fact they are noting of the kind. By this period (early 20th century) genuine tortoiseshell had become very expensive. Therefore most of the hair ornaments which appear to be made of tortoise are, in fact, made from synthetics. These faux tortoise combs are some of the prettiest to be found at this period, since it is unusual to find two exactly alike. Some of them are very convincing and difficult to distinguish from the genuine material, and are skilfully treated to imitate the brown and orange mottling of genuine tortoiseshell.
Item ID: A12-11-008