An oversized Art Deco Spanish style hair comb in French Ivory pierced openwork
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 10¼ ins h x 7 ins w (27 x 18 cm) decorative part 7 ins h (18 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
MATERIALS: French Ivory/celluloid (an early form of collectible plastic), It contains no materials from an endangered species.
Here we see an oversized Art Deco Spanish style comb in French ivory. This comb is HUGE – a real collector’s piece, and not for the faint hearted!
This comb has a solid panel set at the base of the heading and a tall wedge shaped profile. The heading is in-filled with an intricate design of lace like delicacy.
The ornament is made from an early celluloid substance, popularly known as French ivory, because it was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century. It contains no materials from an endangered species.
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. These high wedge shapes and those with acute points are typical of the Art Deco period.
The large mantilla style combs which had enjoyed popularity in the Victorian period were to enjoy 2 decades of popularity when they returned to fashion in the early Art Deco period. This was the age of house parties, with a vogue for dressing up in fancy costumes. Spanish style dress was particularly popular. Many famous actresses and early film stars had themselves portrayed on glamour postcards in a version of Spanish dress. Along with fashion magazines they were an important element in how people chose a “look” and its accessories. Some of the hair combs worn in this period were so huge that they resembled the traditional Spanish peineta in their height and or breadth.
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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