A handsome black steer horn cable design Victorian hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3 ins h x 5 ins w (7.5 x 13 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
MATERIALS: dyed horn, French Jet
Here is a striking Victorian mourning comb of black dyed horn and French Jet. It is made in the traditional manner with a comb mount of black steer horn which supports a decorative heading. The manner of execution can be seen in the back view of the comb.
The heading is very elaborate and is made in the “cable twist” design which was one of the most popular in Victorian hair accessories of this period. One illustration is taken from a contemporary Victorian photograph and shows a sitter with a similar comb type. The cable twist is further adorned with faceted balls of French Jet.
The main feature in this type of comb is that the heading is adjustable. The comb is technically sophisticated, 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. Such combs are of the type which may be worn either in the back of the hairdressing or above the forehead as a tiara, In this latter case the prongs would be concealed among the front hair.
French jet is a glittering form of black glass which has nothing to do with France, but was produced mainly in Bohemia, now part of modern Czechoslovakia, in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was extremely popular for jewellery making.
The importance of Victorian mourning etiquette upon the production of jewellery and personal ornaments was very marked. This etiquette decreed that in deep mourning, the widow and close relative of the deceased must dress in plain dark garments. The only ornaments allowed to be worn at this time were those of jet, which is a natural material found in Whitby, a small town on the East coast of the UK. In order to extend the supply of jet when it became exhausted, various other materials were employed. One of these was French jet.
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