A fine late Victorian back comb in faux tortoiseshell with elaborate cabochon embellishment
SIZE: 4 ins h x 4 ¼ ins w (10 x 11 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s to 1900s
This type of comb is known as a back comb because it is deeply curved to fit the back of the skull. Such combs are typically broader than they are high and have a wide heading with some kind of decorative treatment.
This lovely example is shaped with five upstanding petals which can be seen from all angles when the comb is in position. Each petal is further embellished with a gilt metal mounting and set with a jade coloured glass cabochon.
This very beautiful hair comb is made with a mounting of tortoiseshell coloured celluloid which simulates the dark brown mottled variety of genuine tortoiseshell. Most of the late 19th and 20th century hair ornaments which appear to be made of natural materials are, in fact, made from synthetics. These faux amber, ivory or tortoise combs are some of the prettiest to be found at this period, and are skilfully treated to imitate the colouring and pattern of the genuine material.
Combs like this were worn as shown in the last picture which is taken from a contemporary Victorian photograph of the 1880s. We can see that the sitter is wearing a comb of similar form with petal shaped elements which arise from the back of the head like a coronet and can be seen from all angles.