A collection of three late Victorian or Edwardian faux tortoiseshell hair accessories
CONDITION: all good vintage condition
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, rhinestones.
Here is a collection of three good quality celluloid faux tortoiseshell hair combs dating from the late Victorian or Edwardian periods.
#1 Spanish style comb with clear rhinestones measures 5½ ins x 3 ins (14 x 7.5 cm)
#2 Spanish style comb with amber rhinestones measures 6 ins x 3 ins (15 x 7.5 cm)
#3 Single prong hair pick measures 7 ins h x 1¼ ins w (18 x 4 cm)
The type of ornament at #1 and #2 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 hair ornament at #3 is a novel type often found around the turn of the 20th century and having a dagger like form. They were popularly known as “hair daggers” and were worn piercing the high chignon or topknot.
The surface of the material in all of these hair accessories is beautifully marked with the typical “tortoise” style mottling and is a very faithful imitation of genuine shell. 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. Some of them are very convincing and difficult to distinguish from the genuine material, and are skilfully treated to imitate the brown and orange mottling of genuine tortoiseshell.
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