An ornate Spanish mantilla style hair comb in polished steel with engraving and pierced work
CONDITION: some scratches in the plating on the back of the heading
SIZE: 4½ ins h x 4 ins 2 (11 x 5 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s - 1900
This is a handsome high topped mid Victorian hair comb made from etched and plated steel. The heading, which is made all in one with the prongs, has a wedge shape with an attractive scalloped profile.
The comb has elaborate pierced work comprising scroll shaped panels at the sides and a cut out star in the centre. The engraved design of leaves and florals is very elaborate and covers the entire surface of the heading.
This attractive ornament is a mantilla style comb, so called because of its resemblance to the beautiful high topped combs worn by Spanish ladies with their traditional dress. Such combs became fashionable in the late 19th century at the debut of the opera Carmen and remained the mode for many years.
Such combs were placed in the coiffure as shown in the final illustration picture 9. They were situated in such a way that the tall mantilla style heading could be seen from every angle, allowing the beauty of the openwork design to be seen. The illustration is taken from a contemporary Victorian carte de visite photo and shows a sitter with a high topped ornament worn in this way.
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. For almost two decade afterwards these high topped mantilla combs, often with elaborately decorated and pierced headings, were the ornaments of choice for fashionable Victorian ladies.
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