A pretty faux tortoiseshell back comb with a decorative brass heading
CONDITION: some stones have gone dull otherwise good vintage condition
SIZE: 2½ x 4 ins (6 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, metal, glass stones
Here is a very beautiful but restrained late Victorian or Edwardian back comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell. It has a gently scalloped heading to which is riveted a decorative piece in gold tone metal. This features garlands of repousee flowers for decoration and is further embellished with glass stones.
The surface of the material of beautifully marked with the typical “tortoise” style mottling and is a very faithful imitation of genuine shell.
A back comb is a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the back of the hairdressing, above, below or within the chignon. It is usually identified by a deep curve made to fit the skull. These combs are usually wider than they are high and often have an elaborate heading or top decorated in some way.
The collage picture shows sitters from contemporary photographs, revealing the fashionable hair style and wearing similar ornaments.
The “Gibson Girl” hair dressing was named after the drawings of the American artist Charles Dana Gibson and was very influential in fashion around the turn of the 20th century. The hair was swept up into a padded cottage loaf type of arrangement, sometimes with a few wispy curls left hanging at the sides or back. In order to help support this arrangement, as well as the huge hats of the period, large barrettes, back combs, and suites of matching combs were popular. The illustrations with the mannequin show how these combs were placed to achieve the desired effect.
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