A large Art Deco style hair comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 7 ins h x 7½ ins w (18 x 19 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
Here is a very large and impressive celluloid faux tortoiseshell comb, dating from the early 20th century. This is a handsome example which is sure to turn many heads!
The comb is very deeply curved to fit the back of the head, and the sides are intended to wrap around like wings. It has a delicate lacy design reminiscent of foliage,
The final illustration shows a collage of contemporary photographs with actual sitters (not fashion models or celebrities) wearing these very large Spanish style combs,
This type of ornament is often known as Spanish or mantilla comb because it resembles a smaller version of the traditional large shell ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. In practice any comb which has a high upstanding heading or top which stands proud of the top of the head is often called a mantilla comb.
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. These faux tortoise combs are probably made from Xylonite, a translucent form of celluloid, and were produced under trade names such as “Tortine” or “Tortoisine”.
Many of these Art Deco combs of this period are very large, and made in abstract forms, with little surface ornamentation for a very powerful effect.
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