A pretty turn of the century faux tortoiseshell mantilla style hair comb with gilded rose design
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5¾ ins h x 3½ ins w (14 x 8 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
The tall mantilla style headings became popular in the 1870s due to the debut of Bizet's opera Carmen in 1875. Higher topped combs such as this were produced in genuine tortoiseshell for the higher end of the market and in faux tortoise celluloid or other materials for the popular end.
This lovely tortoise shell comb has a high wedge shaped heading which has a band of pierced scroll work along the top edge and both sides. In the centre of the heading is a circular plaque with a molded design of a full blown rose. The flower and the circular frame which surrounds it are enriched with gilding.
Illustration 9 is taken from a mail order catalog of the period and shows some of the current mantilla style designs which were available for purchase in the USA.
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. The use of the tall Spanish comb has a very long history of use throughout the 19th century and has never been out of fashion in Spain. The tall mantilla style headings became popular in the 1870s due to the debut of Bizet's opera Carmen in 1875. Early performances scandalized audiences but it quickly became one of the most popular operas in the world with a significance fashion influence.
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