Very unusual single pronged hair comb in the Art Nouveau style
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6 x 5 ins (15 x 13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
Here is an unusual comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell which has been made with only one tine to hold it in position. The comb has an asymmetric design with one corned “pulled down” to the left. It has a scalloped profile with an openwork border of scroll work along the top edge of the fan shaped heading.
These features – the asymmetric design and the use of only one tine – show some Art Nouveau influence. The comb is made in beautifully marked faux tortoise shell with well defined mottling of lighter semi transparent patches on a dark opaque ground.
Towards the end of the 19th century the fashion in hairdressing changed to a softer more feminine look. The late Victorian and Edwardian styles were simpler and this in turn led to a taste for lighter and more delicate hair accessories. Some of these hair accessories had only one or two tines. They were worn piercing the high chignon in such a manner that the decorative top was visible from all angles.
Consequently the hair accessories of the late-Victorian period are often extremely novel and eccentric in their design. Typically they have a long pointed shaft which pierces the hair. The top or heading is usually decorated in some fancy manner, with pierced work, gilded metal, or stones. These single pronged hair pins usually take the form of an arrow or dagger, but occasionally those with a larger heading are seen.
As the Art Nouveau style gained in popularity, a whole class of popular jewellery was mass produced which reproduced the typical motifs and “look” of the genre, but was produced by machine. Such ornaments have some of the characteristics of Art Nouveau such as asymmetric design, or organic designs. However they are produced in celluloid rather than the much more expensive tortoiseshell and horn.
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