An unusual carved steer horn hinged hair comb in the form of a leaf
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 4 ins w (9 x 10 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
MATERIALS: steer horn, metal
Here we have a mid Victorian steer horn comb in which the ornamental heading is attached to the comb mount by an articulated hinge of brass. The hinge permits the ornament to be adjusted so that it can be placed in a number of positions in the coiffure.
The comb mount has four tines and supports an unusual asymmetric style heading formed as a leaf. The centre of the leaf is decorated with five faceted balls of French jet, which run down the centre vein. Hanging pendant from the bottom edge of the heading are six balls of polished black horn. These would shake and tremble when the wearer moved.
This is an unusual comb and I have not seen one quite like it before. It has a dark and sombre appearance and was possibly used for mourning.
Horn was one of the most popular materials for hair combs in the 19th century. The material was cheap, and it could be easily treated to obtain a number of decorative effects.
It could be dyed a range of colours. Here the horn has been dyed a dark brown with polished black balls. Horn could also be carved, pierced, and stamped to form elaborate ornamental shapes. Horn is an extremely flexible material, and when heated it can be bent, pierced and stretched into all manner of forms, almost like plastic.
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