A fine early 19th century pierced and clarified steer horn coronet comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5¼ ins h x 5½ ins w (13.5 x 14 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1830s – 1860s
MATERIALS: steer horn
This very beautiful faux tortoiseshell hair comb is of the type often known as a coronet comb. This is because when the ornament is in place the elaborate heading or cresting can be seen from all angles and gives the impression of a more formal ornament. This effect can be seen in illustration 9 which is taken from a Victorian tin type photograph. The sitter had her hair drawn back from a centre parting in what we have come to regard as a typical style of the period. The high carved heading of the comb arises up from the back of the head like an aerial.
The comb has a wide curved heading which is pierced into a beautiful openwork design. The centre panel is occupied by a conventional flowers and foliage design. Above this is a border formed of pairs of confronting scrolls. This forms an attractive scalloped profile.
The comb has been clarified and dyed to a deep honey amber colour which is translucent. Horn was one of the most popular materials for hair combs in the 19th century because it could be easily treated to obtain a number of such decorative effects. It could be dyed a range of colours and was often treated with spots and mottled to give a resemblance to the more expensive tortoiseshell. Horn could also be clarified, carved, pierced, stamped and when heated, twisted into ornamental shapes in a plastic manner.
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