An unusual asymmetric design faux tortoiseshell hair comb with gold pique trims
CONDITION: minor pique loss consistent with age otherwise good vintage condition.
SIZE: 5½ x 2¼ ins (14 x 5.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, gold pique
Here is a pretty pique decorated hair comb with an interesting asymmetric design which resembles a series of leaves inclined to the right. The comb has two tines and the surface of the material of beautifully marked with the typical “tortoise” style mottling and is a very faithful imitation of genuine shell.
Here is an example of the smaller and lighter looking hair accessories which became fashionable in the period approaching the turn of the 20th century. Changes in dressing the hair led to a reaction against the very large mantilla style hair accessories which had been fashionable for the past two decades,
Although the comb here takes the “Spanish” form with an upstanding heading it is smaller and daintier than the kinds of ornaments which have been fashionable for the previous two decades. New ways of dressing the hair in a softer and more feminine style has led to a reaction against the large chunky combs of the mid Victorian era. The taste now was for smaller ornaments with a light and delicate appearance.
Many of the later 19th century the hair ornaments which appear to be made of tortoise are, in fact, made from synthetics. These faux tortoise combs are some of the prettiest to be found at this period, since it is unusual to find two exactly alike. Pique is a decorative treatment of inlaying of precious metals into another material, usually tortoiseshell, but occasionally horn or other substances. This technique has a long history, and was extensively used for the decoration of hair combs and other personal adornments during the reign of Victoria.
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