Art Deco Hair Comb by Auguste Bonaz Ivorene Japonaiserie Style

A fine signed Art Deco Japonaiserie hair comb by Maison Auguste Bonaz

No collection of vintage hair combs is really complete without an example by the Bonaz atelier.

SIZE: 6 ins h x 2 ins w (15 x 5 cms)

CONDITION: excellent no issues

MATERIAL: Ivorene also known as Galalith or French Ivory. This is a synthetic material and contains no elephant bone. It was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century.

APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s to 1920s

MARKS: signed Auguste Bonaz


This beautiful Japonaiserie style hair comb is signed by Auguste Bonaz, the comb maker par excellence of the Art Deco period. It is executed in Galalith and depicts a figural male and female in Japanese costume. The lady has an elaborate hairdressing with numerous kanzashi or hairpins standing out proud and is similar to courtesans represented in old Japanese prints.

The Bonaz atelier produced an entire series of these Oriental style hair accessories. French magazines of the period, such as Femina, contain advertisements for such Japanese style combs being presented to the buyer by ladies in national dress.

The final picture, which is of an early 20th century coloured postcard, shows a sitter wearing a similarly shaped comb with a high narrow heading. It is placed in the hair at a jaunty angle and in such a way that the ornamental heading could be seen from all angles.


Maison Bonaz worked in new materials such as Bakelite and Galalith, and explored the versatility of the materials and their specific qualities. The work of House Bonaz reflected the modern qualities of the constructivist and futurist art movements, and the aesthetics of the Bauhaus.

In Modernism the emphasis was upon the medium, and the process of production rather than the intrinsic value of the materials. Futurism too discarded the art of the past in favour of change, originality and innovation. It glorified the new technology of the automobile and the glory of speed and power and movement. The Bauhaus was an attempt to combine craftsmanship and high design with mass production.

This entirely new material lent wings to the creativity of more forward-thinking designers who viewed the material as an opportunity to completely revolutionize jewelry design. Designers such as Auguste Bonaz utilized strong linear and colour juxtapositions which reflect the changes taking place in such artistic movements as Cubism and Modernism.

This very unusual style in combs dates from an extremely eclectic period of history, when not only the past but many other cultures were plundered to provide inspiration for the designers of personal ornaments and the applied arts. There was a positive rage for the arts of China and Japan in the early 20th century. The taste for Japanese-influenced design is generally known as Japonisme or Japonaiserie.

Item ID: C12-09-001

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Gender: Female, Age Group: Adult, Color: cream, Size: 6 ins h x 2 ins w (15 x 5 cms)

$200 USD

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