A matched pair of Victorian steer horn hair pins with clear rhinestone trim
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5 ins h x 2½ ins w (13 x 6 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: steer horn, metal, rhinestones
Here is a handsome matched pair of two pronged combs or hairpins which probably date from the period around the turn of the 20th century.
The ground material is steer horn which has first been partially clarified to render it translucent. It has then been dyed deep attractive amber.
The combs have an arched heading which is decorated with the iconic Greek key design, done in clear rhinestones set into a metal frame.
One of the fashions of the late Victorian period was for pairs and sets of small combs and hairpins. These ornaments, varying from two to six in number were made in a wide variety of materials and designs. The designs tend to be very conventional and are often based upon classical patterns such as formalised florals, bows or interlaced scrolls.
The Greek Key is an ancient pattern, found in classical Greek and Roman architecture and also used in Mediterranean vases and in mosaics. It is a type of running ornament, often contained within a border, consisting of a fret design with many involved turnings. Some historians feel that the Greek key has its basis in the Greek myth of the labyrinth that imprisoned the Minotaur. Another suggestion is that it is a stylised representation of waves. Whatever its origin, the Greek key is one of the most attractive and typical designs which appear upon these late Victorian and Edwardian hair ornaments.
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