A pretty faux tortoiseshell Art Nouveau hair comb shaped as a figural butterfly
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4¼ ins w (7.5 x 10.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell
Here is a very pretty celluloid faux tortoiseshell hair accessory made in the form of a figural butterfly. The use of this form shows Art Nouveau influence, as the Art Nouveau jewellers seem to have been obsessed with winged creatures of all kinds.
The main feature in this type of comb is that the heading is adjustable. The comb heading is attached to the prongs by a flexible hinge, which allows it to rotate. This enables the ornament to be adjusted to various positions within the coiffure.
The collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar wing shaped ornaments and how they were placed in the hair styles of the day.
The surface of the material in this hair ornament 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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