A handsome late Victorian horn back comb with gilding and rhinestone trim
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3¾ ins h x 4½ ins w (9.5 x 11.5 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 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.
The decoration on this unusually elaborate example comprises a deep rectangular panel of gilded metal work. This features an all over repousee design of flowers and leaves. The flower elements each have a green rhinestone set in the centre of the heading.
The comb mount is made from natural steer horn which has been left in its natural opaque colouration. The metal plaque is attached to the celluloid base by rivets which are sunk into the material and visible from the back.
Combs like this were widely available by mail order and many examples of manufacturer’s catalogs exist. An example is shown in picture 8. Picture 9 shows how such large combs were used, often in pairs, to support the high evening coiffure. This is taken from a fashion magazine of the day and is dated 1893.
Ornaments like this would have appealed to women with more conservative tastes who wanted to have fashionable ornaments but not to be in the front of the mode with Art Nouveau influenced ornaments.
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