A pretty late Victorian or Edwardian celluloid faux tortoiseshell hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 2¼ ins h x 4½ ins w (5.5 x 11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell; gilded metal
Here is an attractive late Victorian or Edwardian back comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell. The gently rounded top of the heading has an applied panel in gold tone metal which is riveted in place. The design is a classical one of garlands of leaves and ribbon bows. It is a typical motif of the period.
A back comb is a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the rear of the hairdressing, above, below or within the chignon. 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.
Such combs were at the peak of their popularity around the turn of the 20th century as a result of changes in dressing the hair. The famous “Gibson Girl” hair dressing was swept up to the crown of the head into a well padded cottage loaf shape, and required support at the back to keep the stray hair tidy. Large back combs were used for this and also to support the huge hats of the period.
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.
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