A pretty faux tortoiseshell hair comb with an interlaced design
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 3 ins w (14 x 7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
This pretty faux tortoiseshell comb has a high and narrow wedge shaped heading with an interlaced design reminiscent of Art Nouveau.
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.
The final illustration shows a collage of contemporary photographs with actual sitters wearing these Spanish style combs with delicate filigree work tops.
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.
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