Vintage Hair Comb Victorian Toledo Work Hair Accessory
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 1½ ins w (10 x 4 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s to 1900s
The comb mount of this lovely ornament is made from celluloid faux tortoiseshell and the heading is fitted with a metal plate that is decorated with Toledo or niello work. The design is a rather unusual asymmetric one. Suggestive of leaf shapes inclined towards the right. The motifs of flowers, leaves and scrollwork are set within compartments, giving the comb a rather Renaissance look.
Combs like this were worn as shown in the final picture which is taken from a contemporary Victorian photograph of the 1880s. It features two late Victorian ladies and we can see that the sitters are wearing openwork combs of similar design. The ornament was typically placed standing proud of the head so that the beauty of its design was visible from all angles.
This lovely hair accessory is made in the lighter more openwork style which became fashionable in the late 19th century. The hair ornaments of this period are very much smaller 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 heading is fitted with a metal plate, which is decorated in a treatment which is called niello, or sometimes Toledo work. Here the niello attractively emphasizes a complex interlaced design with an enclosing border, giving the combs a rather "Renaissance" appearance. In practice this means that they incorporate heavily formalised scrollwork, and contrasting areas of the design are shiny and matte. The niello, a black metallic substance, was applied to the engraved metal surface and fused into it by means of heat, to form the design, somewhat similar to the technique used for enamel
Item ID: A13-02-003
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Gender: Female, Age Group: Adult, Color: gilt metallic/brown, Size: 4 ins h x 1½ ins w
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