French Ivory Hair Comb of Asymmetric Art Nouveau Design

An unusual French Ivory Art Nouveau hair comb with blue painted overlay.

MATERIAL: The ornament is made from an early celluloid substance, popularly known as French ivory, because it was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century.

CONDITION: good vintage condition

SIZE: 5¼ x 4 ins (approx 13.5 x 10 cms)



The years 1900-20 were a period of transitional between two major stylistic movements; Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

The Art Nouveau influence is indicated by complex intertwined lines and an organic feel to the design. However Art Deco took the free-flowing curves and naturalistic motifs and replaced them with more geometric and symmetrical themes.

Although elements like scrollwork and asymmetry persist in the design of this comb there is a stiffness and artificiality about the form of the general design which is leading gradually towards the formalised geometry of Art Deco.

The manner of wearing such combs is shown in the accompanying photographs on the mannequin and in the final picture. This is taken from a contemporary coloured postcard and shows a sitter with a Spanish style hair comb of similar design.


Many early synthetic combs were produced in a two-tone casting whereby a core of one colour is overlaid upon a shell of another. Here, for example a creamy core has been cast with a bright blue shell producing an interesting topographical effect.

You can read more about hair accessories in my articles. They are available as a PDF document from my document archive by clicking the "Favourite Links" tab on the left of this page.

Item ID: W13-01-022

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Gender: Female, Age Group: Adult, Color: white/blue, Size: 5ΒΌ x 4 ins

$135 USD

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The Spanish Comb

Norma Lammont, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK   

Antique and Vintage Hair Combs and Costume Accessories from Around the World

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