A fine late Georgian tortoiseshell back comb with silver pique inlay
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5 ins h x 4 ins w (13 x 10 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1820s – 1830s
MATERIALS: tortoiseshell, silver pique
This very beautiful tortoiseshell hair comb is of the type often known as a mantilla comb. This is on account of its resemblance to the beautiful high combs worn by Spanish ladies with their traditional dress. In practice any comb with a tall heading which stands proud of the head when in wear is often called a Spanish comb.
Here is a handsome mantilla style hair comb with a high rectangular heading which is made in one large piece of this attractive tortoiseshell material. The eight long curved tines have not been added separately. Both the heading and the prongs are curved to fit the back of the wearer’s head. So often with these old horn and tortoiseshell combs the tips of the tines are broken, but these are in good condition and nicely pointed.
The close up pictures show that this fine ornament is beautifully marked, with good contrast between the darker opaque and lighter orange-brown translucent patches which are characteristic of this material. The heading of comb has been moulded into an impressed design by heating the material between metal plates.
The ornament is also decorated on the centre panel with simple pique inlay of silver dots. Pique is a decorative method which comprises inlay of tiny gold and silver pieces into tortoiseshell, horn or other materials. It was a favorite method or ornamentation throughout the 19th century,
Such combs became the mode in the early 19th century when the fashionable coiffure became extremely tall and elaborate. Combs such as this were used to support the dressing and give extra height. Great loops of hair (often false) arise from the crown of the head back backed up by these Spanish style combs. The final picture illustrates a number of contemporary sitters wearing comb ornaments and shows how they were worn.
All state and federal documentation and certificates required by law for commercial sale, import or export, have been obtained for this item. Proper legal paperwork will be included with it at shipment.
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