A striking Victorian hinged mourning hair comb in dyed horn with bone inlay
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4½ ins w (7.5 x 11 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
MATERIALS: horn, bone, metal
Here we have a large and handsome example of a classic hinged mid Victorian hair comb. The main feature is that the heading is adjustable, being attached to the prongs by a flexible hinge of gilt metal, which allows it to rotate through 90 or more degrees. This enables the ornament to be adjusted to various positions within the coiffure.
This attractive type of hair accessory with a folded down heading is specifically designed to be worn at the rear of the hairdressing, within or covering the chignon.
This one is made from steer horn which has been dyed black to render the material opaque. The comb has a wide, narrow rectangular heading. Into this is inset a strip of what appears to be bone, from its matte appearance and faint black speckles which are distinctive of this material. Superimposed upon the bone strip are four flat roundels, like buttons. They each have a polished sphere of French jet in the centre and a series of radiating lines in gold lacquer.
This interesting mid Victorian comb has a suitably somber black and white appearance, and may have been used in half mourning. Victorian mourning etiquette was very strict but allowed the deep black to be relieved by white and or grey after a suitable period. This costume was known as "half mourning".
Pictures 8 and 9 are compilations of contemporary carte de visite from the mid Victorian period c 1870s-1880s. They show how these hinged combs could take various forms and be placed according to the fancy of the wearer.
Such combs may be worn either in the back of the hairdressing, within the chignon, or above the forehead as a tiara. Picture 9 is a compilation of Victorian carte de visite from the mid Victorian period c 1870s- 1880s. It shows how these balls combs could take various forms and be placed according to the fancy of the wearer.
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