A handsome late Victorian or Edwardian back comb embellished with amethyst glass stones
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5 ins h x 5 ins w (13 x 13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, glass stones
Here is a very beautiful late Victorian back comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell with an elaborately decorated heading. The top has been moulded with five lobes or shapes resembling fingers, which arise from the top. Each lobe is decorated with a gilded floral motif set with small clear rhinestones, and a large faceted faux amethyst at the top. Some Art Nouveau influence can be seen in the design.
These combs with upstanding lobes or fingers seem to have been popular in the late Victorian period. When they were placed in position the upstanding portion of the comb was also visible from the front. The collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments with upstanding lobes and how they were placed in the hair styles of the day.
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.
Victorian back combs are usually very elaborate and may be decorated in a variety of ways such as with balls, cameos, openwork or applied materials. As the century progressed the decoration upon such combs became lighter, and often revealed Art Nouveau influence. They tend to have an affixed gilt metal, silver tone or sterling frame which is adorned with prong set rhinestones or faux gems.