A beautiful matched pair of French Ivory and peacock stone back combs, part of a matching suite
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 2 ins h x 4 ins w (5 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: French Ivory/celluloid (an early form of collectible plastic), It contains no materials from an endangered species. Metal, glass stones
This beautiful early Art Nouveau matched paid of side combs is part of a suite comprising a large back comb and two side combs. These suites were very popular during the Gibson Girl era around the turn of the 20th century. However they are not suited to modern hair dressing and experience has taught me that it is better to sell the back and side combs separately. So I am selling the matching side combs separately in my shop.
The combs are made in French ivory, which is a synthetic material containing no elements from an endangered species. Each has a gently scalloped heading and is set with four large spherical “peacock” cabochons, which were popular with Art Nouveau jewellers. Each stone has a border of clear rhinestones.
Side combs, as their name implies, were placed at either side of the dressing to support the high chignon.
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 collage photograph shows several illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments. This and the photographs on the mannequin show how they were placed in the hair styles of the day.
The peacock, one of the favourite themes in Art Nouveau jewellery design, is a symbol of beauty and dignity. It also represents immortality in religious symbolism. This is said to be from the annual renewing of its feathers; or from the fact that its starry tail rendered the peacock sacred to Juno, the immortal queen of the heavens.
Peacock Eye is a name that was given to a rare antique Bohemian lamp work foil glass because it was made to resemble the eye of the peacock feather. The glass was first made in the late 19th century in the town of Gablonz in northern Bohemia (now Czech Republic). Bohemia or Czech glass is known worldwide for their high quality and beautiful artistic glass. The making of this glass was very labour intensive, so these stones were used in either precious metal or in very fashionable costume jewelry settings including the styles of Art Nouveau, Egyptian Revival, Arts and Crafts, and also in the vintage jewelry era. The stones were exported to other countries such as Germany and England where they were used to make some beautiful quality jewelry.
Peacock Eye foil glass was made in several shapes of beads and cabochons and can even be found used in fashionable buttons. The glass was made with green glass over foil with cobalt blue dots in the centre. Keep in mind, just because a stone has green and cobalt blue glass does not make it Peacock Eye. The green foil with the cobalt blue dot is the determining factor. There are many collectors of this beautiful antique glass and any pieces that adorn it will bring a high premium.
The collage photograph shows several illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments and how they were placed in the hair styles of the day.
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