A handsome late Victorian back comb set with faux turquoise cabochons
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3 x 3½ ins (7.5 x 9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, faux turquoise
Here is a handsome Spanish style hair comb executed in amber coloured celluloid. It has a wedge shaped heading which is quite deeply curved to fit the back of the head.
The decoration comprises three oval faux turquoise cabochons (glass or ceramic) which are mounted upon the heading. The inclusion of these elements shows some watered down Art Nouveau influence. The Art Nouveau jewellers favoured gemstones polished as cabochons rather than facet cut.
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 first Art Nouveau ornaments were hand made and carved from clarified horn. However they were far to expensive for ordinary people. As the Art Nouveau style gained in popularity, a whole class of popular jewellery was mass produced which reproduced the typical motifs of the genre, but was produced by machine. These were Made in celluloid and decorated with rhinestones or faux cabochons in glass or ceramic.
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