A carved bone hinged hair comb with an unusual asymmetric design
CONDITION: good vintage condition although with some signs of age and wear
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4 ins w (7.5 x 10 cms)
Here we have a large and handsome example of a classic hinged mid Victorian tiara style hair comb. The comb mount and heading are carved from bone, the surface of which shows the minute black dots which are typical of this material.
The heading comprises a curved band in the centre of which is mounted a flower shaped motif. Pendant from this is an arm with a small ball at the extremity. Balls of carved bone decorate the ends of the heading which more small spheres alternate with the petals on the “flower”. The design has an asymmetric feeling which is unusual for the period.
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.
Combs such as this with a fold down combs are specifically designed to be worn in the back of the hairdressing. They might be placed either above or within the chignon. Victorian hair styles were complex and voluminous, often requiring the use of false hair. These fold down combs were convenient at hiding the place where false tresses were pinned into position.
Picture 9 shows a collage of Victorian carte de visite and engravings from the mid Victorian period and illustrates how these hinged combs could take various forms and be placed according to the fancy of the wearer.
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