A handsome late Victorian or Edwardian back comb with gilded decoration
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 4 ins w (10 x 10 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell, gold pigment
Here we have a finely decorated faux tortoiseshell back comb of the late Victorian or Edwardian period.
A back comb is a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the back of the hairdressing above, below or within the chignon. It is usually identified by a deep curve made to fit the skull. These combs are usually wider than they are high and have an elaborate heading or top decorated in some way.
This beautiful example has a design resembling the spokes of an unfurled fan etched into the surface of the celluloid. These lines are then in filled with gold coloured paint or pigment to produce the beautiful design which shows to great advantage against the dark brown surface.
By this period genuine tortoiseshell had become very expensive. Therefore most of the hair ornaments which appear to be made of tortoise are, in fact, made from synthetics. These faux tortoise combs are some of the prettiest to be found at this period, since it is unusual to find two exactly alike. Some of them are very convincing and difficult to distinguish from the genuine material, and are skilfully treated to imitate the brown and orange mottling of genuine tortoiseshell.
Such combs became popular in the period around the turn of the 20th century to support the padded out Gibson Girl coiffures
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