A handsome late Victorian back comb in blonde horn with faux turquoise cabochons
CONDITION: good vintage condition with no missing stones and original patina
SIZE: 4 ins h x 4 ins w (10 x 10 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
This is a lovely comb, ornately decorated but not too glitzy. The metal has been left in its original patina and is not too shiny. However it could be polished up more of desired. It would grace any contemporary evening hairstyle and would be ideal for the re-enactor.
Here we have a beautiful late Victorian back comb which is made from a dark amber variety of heavy grade celluloid. The comb has a wide and shallow heading which is characteristic of the period. Onto this is overlaid a complex Art Nouveau inspired design in brass. This metalwork features conventional scrollwork and fantastic creatures which appear to be harpies on either side of the central group of cabochons. This metal plaque is attached to the celluloid base by rivets which are sunk into the material and are visible from the rear.
The design is further enhanced by faux turquoise cabochons in both oval and spherical shapes. These appear to be made from glass or ceramic material.
We can see that the design, although ornate, is somewhat formal and conventional. Such ornaments appealed to the more conservative wearer who wanted to be in fashion, but not the extreme of the mode.
The final illustration is taken from fashion illustrations of the mid 1890s to 1900s and shows an evening hair dressing which is supported by a large back comb in the current manner.
Combs like this were known as back combs because they were intended to be worn at the back of the head. They are typically deeply curved to fit the skull and are usually wider than they are tall. They have a broad shallow heading which gives scope for some kind of decorative treatment.
Such combs were at their most popular around the turn of the 20th century and were used to support the fluffed out Gibson Girl hairdressing and the large hats of the Belle Époque period.
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