A lovely mid Victorian carved steer horn hair comb with cut steel studs
CONDITION: 1 broken prong otherwise good vintage condition.
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 4½ ins w (9 x 11 cms)
MATERIALS: steer horn, cut steel
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
I don’t normally list damaged items here but this comb is so beautiful and unusual that I am going to make an exception. The comb still sits nicely in the hair despite the broken tine, and the damage is invisible in wear as seen in the photograph on the model.
Here is a very beautiful steer horn comb which dates from the mid Victorian period of the 1850s – 1880s. It is made from natural steer horn which had been dyed to a deep shape of amber. The comb is made with the heading all in one with the prongs. The latter has been carved into a form resembling a corkscrew. This was a very popular motif in mid Victorian combs and is found in all kinds of materials, but chiefly horn, tortoiseshell and celluloid faux tortoiseshell.
The heading is further embellished with small studs of cut steel, in an interesting and unusual combination of materials. Combs of this design could be worn either as a back comb, within the chignon, or placed in front where they gave the effect of a mini tiara.
Horn was one of the most popular materials for hair combs in the 19th century, not only because the material was cheap, but also because it could be easily treated to obtain a number of decorative effects. As here, it could be dyed different colours. It could also be clarified to render it semi translucent. Finally it could be carved, pierced and moulded under head in a plastic manner to obtain all kinds of fancy effects.
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