A beautiful mid Victorian hair comb in steer horn and mother of pearl
Suitable for a vintage bride who likes something different
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5 ins h x 3½ ins w (13 x 9 cms)
MATERIALS: steer horn, mother of pearl
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s - 1900
This is a lovely high topped comb of the type usually called a Spanish mantilla comb from its resemblance to the very tall combs worn by Spanish ladies with their traditional dress. Such high topped combs became modish in the 1870s due to the debut of the opera “Carmen”. They remained in fashion for about 20 years, well into the 1890s when smaller hair accessories came into vogue.
This attractive ornament has a comb base of steer horn, to which a wedge shaped slab or mother or pearl has been riveted. The pearl heading has an oval panel in the centre which is filled by the pierced design representing a leaf. The mother of pearl has a nice light silvery white colour and has no chips or cracks. The back of the heading does have some roughness in its surface on the left, but this is a natural feature of the material rather than a blemish.
The final photograph is taken from a Victorian carte de visite of the 1880s and shows the typical manner in which these high topped combs were worn. They were placed on top of the chignon standing proud of the head so that the beauty of their design could be seen from all angles.
The base of the comb is made from steer horn which has been treated to resemble the much more expensive tortoiseshell. This is a typical treatment for horn at this time. Horn is a versatile material and was very popular for combs before the synthetic materials began to take over in the later 19th century. It could be dyed to obtain a number of decorative effects, including the random mottling of tortoiseshell.
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