A fine turn of the century back comb with gilded metal and pink glass cabochons
CONDITION: 4 clear stones missing otherwise good vintage condition.
SIZE: 4 ins h x 4½ ins w (10 x 11 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 189s – 1900s
This attractive ornament is a back comb, a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the rear of the hairdressing above, below or within the chignon. It is usually identified by a deep curve made to fit the skull. These combs are usually wider than they are high and have an elaborate heading or top decorated in some way.
This pretty comb shows a combination with typical motifs of the period (scroll work) with touches of Art Nouveau styling in respect of the intertwined lines and suggested leaf motifs. The effect is enhanced by clear rhinestones at salient points in the design. Three oval glass cabochons in an attractive mottled pink (faux coral?) are placed prominently at the centre of the design.
The metal plaque is attached to the celluloid base by rivets which are sunk into the material and visible from the back.
Similar combs are shown in the final picture which is taken from a contemporary jeweler’s mail order catalog of the early 20th century. It shows a wide range of extremely elaborate back combs from which customers could choose.
The first Art Nouveau ornaments were hand made and carved from clarified horn and other materials. As the Art Nouveau style gained in popularity, a whole class of popular jewellery was mass produced. This reproduced the typical motifs of the genre, but was produced by machine. These latter ornaments are usually made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell with decorations of pierced brass or silver tone metal, set with glass or ceramic stones.
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