Antique Faux Tortoiseshell Spanish Mantilla Style Hair Comb
SIZE: 10 ins h x 7 ins (26 x 18 cms) w heading 5 ins (12.5 cms)
CONDITION: There are a few small nibbles on the top right hand corner of the heading (picture 5) and a small ding on the right where the prongs meet the heading (picture 6). Otherwise this comb is in excellent condition for its age and size.
APPROXIMATE DATE: late 19th to early 20th century
MATERIAL: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
This comb is a particularly large and handsome example. It has a striking asymmetric design which suggests the form of foliage. There is therefore some Art Nouveau influence without it being overtly in the mode.
This one probably dates from the latter part of the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century. It is made not from genuine tortoiseshell but from celluloid, a very convincing synthetic discovered in the 1860s.
This comb would probably have been used for amateur theatricals, which were popular in the early 20th century, or for fancy dress.
The final picture is taken from a Victorian photograph with two ladies in the costume of the 1880s and both are wearing extremely high Spanish style combs of a similar type.
This comb is of the type known as a Spanish mantilla comb or peineta because it resembles the traditional ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. The very tall Spanish comb has a very long history of use throughout the 19th century. The production of the opera Carmen led to a fashion for high Spanish combs in the 1870s, and they again became the rage during the early 20th century. In some of these combs the heading might be as much as eight or ten inches in height.