This fine late Victorian mourning comb is made from glossy black celluloid and studded with French jet rhinestones.
CONDITION: good vintage condition.
SIZE: 7 ins h x 4½ ins w (18 x 11 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s to 1900
This comb may well have been worn for mourning, which was an important social custom in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Etiquette forbade any personal ornaments save those from dull dark colours. The material of choice was Whitby jet, but French jet, dyed horn and black celluloid were also used.
The comb has a high mantilla style heading with an openwork design representing leaves and added embellishment of "jet" rhinestones. The effect of the high heading in wear can be seen on the mannequin.
This comb can be compared with the final illustration which is taken from an engraved fashion plate of the 1880s. Here we can see the complex coiffures of the later Victorian era and the high topped combs which were in vogue.
This comb is of the type known as a Spanish or mantilla comb because it resembles the traditional ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. In this tradition a beautiful lace scarf is draped over a high comb which was made of beautifully carved tortoiseshell. The use of the very tall Spanish comb has a very long history of use throughout the 19th century and has never been out of fashion in Spain. Nowadays they are an essential part of the costume used in flamenco and other forms of Spanish dance.
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