An unusual asymmetric design aluminum and rhinestone hair comb from around the turn of the 20th century
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 3½ ins w (10 x 9 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1895 - 1910
MATERIALS: aluminum, rhinestones, faux tortoiseshell
The ornament has a comb mount of celluloid faux tortoiseshell with two prongs or tines. Fastened to this by rivets is the heading of Aluminum which is closely set with rhinestones that have a grayish tinge.
Aluminum hair combs were widely produced at this date but it is always wonderful to find one like this with an unusual asymmetrical heading shape. Here the heading has been shaped like a long tailed leaf which has been placed on its side.
Aluminum combs were fashionable in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods on account of their light silvery sheen. Hair jewellery became much smaller from the 1890s and openwork and filigree effects like this were preferred.
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 lovely comb may originally have been one of a pair with a companion made in a mirror image.
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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