An unusual faux tortoiseshell hair comb with decorative metal trim
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6 x 4 ins (15 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, metal
Here we see one of those pretty wedge shaped combs which became popular in the late Victorian period, and into the early 20th century.
The comb is made from celluloid faux tortoise shell. It is beautifully marked with well defined mottling of darker patches on a lighter semi opaque ground. It has a narrow wedge shaped heading and the three tines are all in good condition and nicely pointed. An ornamental decal of silver tone metal with scroll motifs is riveted to the top of the heading.
The collage picture shows sitters from contemporary photographs of the 1890s, revealing the fashionable hair style and wearing similar wedge shaped ornaments.
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 debut of the opera Carmen led to a fashion for the Spanish style comb in the mid 1870s and this lasted for almost two decades.
In the last decade of the 19th century the larger Spanish style combs fell out of fashion due to changes in dressing the hair. These smaller versions were still worn and persisted into the Art Deco period of the early 20th century.
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