A handsome late Victorian wedge shaped hair comb with gold tone metal embellishments
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 3 ins w (14 x 7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, metal
Here is a handsome wedge shaped Spanish style hair comb from the late Victorian period. It is made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell with an application in gold tone metal of asymmetric leaf like motifs.
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 collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments and how they were placed in the hair styles of the day. These combs with a wedge shaped silhouette appear to have been one of the most popular forms.
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.