A handsome mid Victorian mantilla style hair comb with elaborate silver tone metal applied work
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4½ ins h x 3¼ ins w (11 x 8 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s - 1900
This pretty Victorian hair comb has an oval shaped heading and is made in a celluloid faux tortoiseshell with very pronounced mottling. Attached to the front of the heading by rivets is an application of silver tone metal. This is done in a very baroque looking design which features scrolls, spirals and floral elements. The metal forms a kind of framework to the heading and adds an elaborate touch.
This type of ornament is known as Spanish or mantilla comb because it resembles the traditional high topped tortoiseshell ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. The tall mantilla style headings became popular in the 1870s due to the debut of Bizet's opera Carmen in 1875. For almost two decade afterwards these high topped mantilla combs, often with elaborately decorated and pierced headings, were the ornaments of choice for fashionable ladies.
Such higher topped combs were produced in genuine tortoiseshell for the higher end of the market and in faux tortoise celluloid for the popular end. This attractive accessory is made not from real tortoiseshell but from a celluloid man made equivalent which gives the impression of the real thing. This material was available in a range of mottled finishes some of which so cleverly imitate the genuine article that they are very difficult to tell apart.
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