A pretty faux tortoiseshell mantilla style hair comb with "Chinese" character metal embellishment.
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 3¼ ins w (10 x 8 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s – 1890s
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.
Such higher topped combs were produced in genuine tortoiseshell for the higher end of the market and in horn, celluloid and other materials for the popular end. The tall mantilla style headings became popular in the 1870s due to the debut of Bizet's opera Carmen in 1875. The type continued to be fashionable but grew smaller and daintier as the 19th century drew to its close.
This pretty example is in nicely marked celluloid faux tortoiseshell and has a high wedge shaped heading. Affixed to the heading is a silver tone metal embellishment which resembles a Chinese character.
Combs like this were worn as shown in the final picture which is taken from a contemporary Victorian photograph of the 1890s. We can see that the female sitter is wearing a comb of similar wedge shaped design. The ornament is typically placed standing proud of the head so that the beauty of its design was visible from all angles.
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