An attractive Spanish style hair comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 4 ins w (14 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
This pretty Spanish style comb is made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell warm brown coloured and has a heading with a delicate cut out design.
It is a fine example of the smaller and more delicate looking hair accessories which became fashionable from the 1890s onward, and into the early 20th century. A softer and more feminine manner of dressing the hair led to a taste for hair ornaments with an air of lightness and delicacy. So openwork filigree effects in both metal and other materials was fashionable.
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.
The collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar 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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