A very large French Ivory Spanish style hair comb from the Art Deco period
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 7½ x 7 ins (19 x 18 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
MATERIALS: French Ivory/celluloid (an early form of collectible plastic), It contains no materials from an endangered species.
This spectacular Art Deco period comb is made in French Ivory. This is an early celluloid substance, popularly known as French ivory, because it was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century. It contains no materials from an endangered species.
The comb has an attractive curved profile and resembles an unfurled fan, with a series of radiating panels like the sticks of a fan. Each panel shows a combination of scrollwork and lattice.
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 collage picture shows sitters from contemporary illustrations, revealing the fashionable hair style and wearing similar large Spanish style ornaments.
This comb is a variety of the iconic design of Art Deco combs whereby “blades” or openwork lines radiate outwards from the base of the heading. This is a very typical motif in Art Deco combs, and in the art of the period. Some people interpret the spokes as representing the wheel, and thus symbolising the Futurist fascination with speed and machinery. This spokes or sunray motif appears in many forms. Sometimes it is abstracted to a series of lines or mere “spokes” which radiate out from the base of the heading.
These large and spectacular combs are a feature of the early Art Deco period.
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