A handsome faux tortoiseshell hair comb in the Spanish style with Art Nouveau influenced 9ct gold embellishment
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6½ x 4¼ ins (16 x 11 cm) decorative part 4 ins h (10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, 9 ct gold
Here is a very large and handsome faux tortoiseshell hair comb in the Spanish style which probably dates from the late Victorian or Edwardian periods.
The comb has a tall heading with several cut out panels which are done in a classical foliage and scroll design. Affixed to the centre of the heading is a panel of 9 ct gold which is set with dark red stones, possibly garnets, and shows clear Art Nouveau influence in its design.
The collage picture shows a number of sitters from contemporary photographs, revealing the fashionable hair style and wearing similar ornaments.
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.
Many of the later 19th century 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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