A handsome large Victorian or Edwardian faux tortoiseshell back comb with gold pique inlay
CONDITION: minor loss of 2 pique dots, otherwise good vintage condition
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4 ins w (7.5 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, gold tone metal
Here is a very beautiful late Victorian back comb in faux tortoiseshell tortoiseshell with gold pique inlay. The ornament probably dates from late Victorian or Edwardian period in the 1890s – 1900s, rather than from earlier in Victoria’s reign.
The comb is fashioned out of one large solid piece of the mid brown mottled form of faux tortoiseshell. The material is very nicely marked and polished. The “tortoise” type patterning is very pronounced, with well defined mottling of lighter semi transparent patches on a dark opaque ground. The heading has a rectangular shape with a formalised pique inlay in a broad oval panel design.
The collage illustration shows some contemporary photographs which demonstrate how such large back combs were used to support the fashionable Gibson Girl coiffure which was in vogue around the turn of the 20th century.
A back comb, as its name suggests, is a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the rear of the hairdressing. It is usually identified by a deep curve made to fit the skull. These combs are usually wider than they are high and often have an elaborate heading or top decorated in some way.
This beautiful comb is a fine example of Edwardian hair ornaments and is typical of a whole class of jewellery which was worn by women who were more conservative in their tastes, and wished to follow fashion at a distance, but who also wished to own beautiful ornaments. Although this range of jewellery often shows the influence of popular stylistic movements such as Art Nouveau or Art Deco, it was not produced in the extreme of any one particular influence.
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