A beautiful Victorian tortoiseshell hair comb with decorated pique balls design
CONDITION: there is a crack in the back of the heading but the comb is still securely in one piece.
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 4½ ins w (9 x 11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
MATERIALS: tortoiseshell, metal
Here is a very beautiful mid Victorian comb in natural tortoiseshell with elaborate gold pique inlay. The ornament probably dates from the 1850s – 1880s. The ornament is hinged, as many hair combs of this period were. This permits the heading to be adjusted to various angles so that it can be worn either tiara style or in the back of the dressing.
The comb base has eight tines and is joined by the usual brass hinge of a heading which is formed out of one piece of tortoiseshell. Although fashioned out of one large solid piece, this has been carved to render the appearance of the graduated “balls” which were so popular in combs of this period. There are five of these balls, graduated in size so that the one in the centre is the largest. Each “ball” is decorated with elaborate gold pique inlay.
These balls combs were known as “peigne Josephine”. They range tremendously in size from combs decorated with balls as large as 1½inches across to much smaller and daintier ones. They were produced in very large numbers, and are found with balls of pearl, tortoiseshell, gilt ormolu, coral or even carved ivory. Sometimes the balls themselves are elaborately decorated with engraved or inlayed patterns, Often the balls are graduated in size, with the largest being placed in the centre or somewhat raised to give the effect of a coronet.
Pique is the decorative treatment of inlaying precious metals into another material, usually tortoiseshell, but occasionally horn or other substances. This technique was extensively used for the decoration of hair combs and other personal adornments during the reign of Victoria. When gently heated, usually by insertion in hot water, natural organic materials soften to permit the inlaying of small pieces of metal or other substance. When cool, the ground material contracts to hold the pieces in tightly in place without the need for adhesive.
If this item includes any CITES Appendix I materials documentation and certificates required by law for commercial sale, import or export, have been obtained for this item and will be included with it at shipment.
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