A dainty Victorian hinged tiara style hair comb in cut steel
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3¼ ins h x 2¼ ins w (8 x 6 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
MATERIALS: steer horn, cut steel.
Here we have a dainty example of a classic hinged tiara style hair comb. The comb mount is of steer horn which has been clarified to a pale translucent amber colour rather than being dyed to resemble tortoiseshell.
The heading comprises a coronet shape with formalised flower shapes in cut steel. The design is executed in different shapes and sizes of this material, including various sizes roundels and scalloped pieces. The five florals are slightly graduated in height with the largest in the centre of the arch.
The main feature of this type of comb 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 feature can be seen in the various photographs.
Such combs may be worn either in the back of the hairdressing, within the chignon, or above the forehead as a tiara. Picture 9 shows a collage of Victorian cabinet cards and illustrates how these balls combs could take various forms and be placed according to the fancy of the wearer.
Cut steel combs and tiaras are characteristically made with headings covered with studs of faceted steel and riveted to a backing plate of white metal. The construction of the comb can be studied in one of the close up photographs. This comb uses different shapes and sizes of steels in the design. This variety of different shapes and sizes is regarded as one of the sure hallmarks of high quality in a piece.
The use of cut steel is very characteristic of the Victorian period. Production of cut-steel goods began in the early 1800s and continued until the end of the century, although the later examples tend to be very crude in comparison with earlier ones.
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