An unusual Art Nouveau matching set of back comb and barrette with gilded leaves
CONDITION: some wear to the gilding but otherwise good vintage condition
SIZE: comb 3½ x 5½ ins (9 x 14 cm); barrette 1 x 3¼ ins (2.5 x 8 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, gilding, metal
Here is an unusual matching hair comb and barrette set with Art Nouveau influence.
The comb is made in the form of a back comb and is deeply curved to fit the rear of the head. It is executed in faux tortoiseshell, as is the matching barrette. The comb has a curved heading which is decorated with an engraved design of ivy leaves. This has been further decorated with two shades of gold to give a subtle and naturalistic effect.
The matching barrette has been decorated with a complimentary design.
The surface of the material for both ornaments is 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 “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.
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