A fine hinged late Victorian hair comb in floral design set with Bohemian garnets
CONDITION: the ends of both tines appear to have been chipped and re-sharpened, otherwise good vintage condition. This does not affect the wearability of the comb.
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 2½ ins w (9 x 6 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: steer horn, metal, garnets
If Mrs. Dracula wore jewellery, the chances are good it was Bohemian garnet!
The colour of sangria, it looks seductive and mysterious, a gem for the night. This lovely example has five floral motifs, graduated in size, set above an arch with a double row of the stones below. Victorian jewellers set the small, brilliant-cut stones en masse, clustering scores of garnets in brooches, necklaces, earrings, rings and hair combs. The effect is a deep, shimmering pool of colour that catches the light and transforms it.
The main feature in this type of comb is that the heading is adjustable. The comb is technically sophisticated, being attached to the prongs by a flexible hinge of gilt metal, which allows it to rotate through 90 or more degrees. This enables the ornament to be adjusted to various positions within the coiffure. Such combs are of the type which may be worn either in the back of the hairdressing or above the forehead as a tiara. In this latter case the prongs would be concealed among the front hair.
Garnets are the quintessentially Victorian stones used in ornaments and jewellery throughout the period. The genuine stones vary in colour from a deep purplish-red to dark reddish brown, and were popular for sets of jewellery, which might include a small comb. In English examples the garnets are set into gilded brass or vermeil (usually gold-plated silver). European examples are usually set in silver. Occasionally the settings are of low-carat gold.
The word garnet is believed to have come from the Latin granatus, for pomegranate. The “Bohemian” aspect derives from the fact the stones had been mined for centuries in what is the Czech Republic today but was Bohemia until 1918.
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