A handsome black celluloid Victorian mourning hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4½ x 3½ ins (11 x 9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s – 1880s
Here is a striking mourning hair comb from the later Victorian period. It is made from moulded celluloid which has not been polished, and this dull appearance is in keeping with Victorian mourning etiquette.
The comb is made in the Spanish style with an upstanding heading having an open work design with star shaped motifs.
The collage picture shows sitters from contemporary photographs, revealing the form of dress considered suitable for a widow and showing mourning jewelry and 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.
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 black celluloid
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