A pretty late Victorian or Edwardian faux tortoiseshell hair comb with pearl embellishment
CONDITION: good vintage condition.
SIZE: 3¼ ins h x 4¼ ins w (8 x 11 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, rhinestones, faux pearls
Here we have a beautiful late Victorian back comb which is made from a dark variety of celluloid faux tortoiseshell. The comb has a wide and shallow heading which is characteristic of the period. Onto this is overlaid a complex design which is executed in half pearls and dark blue rhinestones. Both the rhinestones and the faux pearl halves are set into small brass mounts.
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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