A pretty late Victorian or Edwardian Aluminum and Rhinestone hair comb
CONDITION: on stone absent on top left otherwise good vintage condition
SIZE: 6 ins h x 4 ins w (15 x 10 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
Aluminum was a very popular material for comb making around the turn of the 20th century. However this is a particularly large and handsome example.
The ornament has a comb mount of horn which has been dyed to resemble the much more expensive tortoiseshell. Fastened to this by rivets is the heading of Aluminum. This is made in a traditional fan shape with an attractive scalloped silhouette. The design features a number of floral motifs with intertwined stems and leaves, and thus displays some Art Nouveau influence.
Combs such as this were placed high on the head in such a way that the beautiful openwork heading could be seen from all angles. This effect can be seen in picture 9. This is taken from a late Victorian tintype photo of a sitter with a similar high topped comb whose scalloped outline is very similar to the example here.
Aluminum is an interesting metal. Frenchman Henri Sainte-Claire Deville produced the first useful Aluminum in 1854. The metal made its first public appearance the next year, at the 1855 Paris Exposition. Until 1862, it was considered a rare metal, and was used mostly for jewellery, decorative objects and delicate mechanical parts. As technological developments made Aluminum more widely available, it came to symbolize modernity, and its malleability was soon appreciated by practitioners of the avant-garde and Art Nouveau. It was later used for much Modernist influenced jewellery and personal ornaments.
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