A handsome celluloid faux tortoiseshell hair comb with mother of pearl inlay
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6½ ins h x 4½ ins w (16 x 11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, mother of pearl
Here is a large and handsome faux tortoiseshell Spanish style hair comb from the late 19th to early 20th century. The comb has a circular heading and five sturdy tines. It has an openwork panel in the centre of the heading with a delicate lacy design which suggests formalised flower heads. The outer border is inlaid with tiny slivers of mother of pearl.
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 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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