An oversized black celluloid Spanish style hair comb from the Art Deco period
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 8½ ins h x 5½ ins w (22 x 14 cm) decorative part 5½ ins h (14 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
MATERIALS: celluloid (an early collectible synthetic)
Here we see an oversized Art Deco Spanish style comb in glossy black celluloid.
This comb is a variety of the iconic design of Art Deco combs whereby “blades” or openwork lines radiate outwards from the base of the heading. This is a very typical motif in Art Deco combs, and in the art of the period. Some people interpret the spokes as representing the wheel, and thus symbolising the Futurist fascination with speed and machinery. This spokes or sunray motif appears in many forms. Sometimes it is abstracted to a series of lines or mere “spokes” which radiate out from the base of the heading.
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.
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.
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