A handsome Art Nouveau boxed set of three faux tortoiseshell hair combs
CONDITION: large comb and one of the smaller ones has missing inlay, otherwise good vintage condition
Large comb 2 ins x 4 ins (4 x 10 cm); small combs 1½ x 3½ ins (4 x 9 cm); box 5 x 5 x 1½ ins (13 x 13 x 4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, gold inlay
Here is an attractive boxed set of Art Nouveau styled hair combs, comprising a large back comb and two smaller side combs. The combs are made in faux tortoiseshell effect celluloid with a gold motif styled in the familiar Art Nouveau “whiplash” manner.
The fitted box has a red leather exterior and is lined in white silk, which is still clean and in good condition. Inside the lid is the legend “Drew & Co, 156 – 157 Leadenhall St., London” so it is clear that the ornaments are of British manufacture.
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. The pictures with the mannequin show how the back comb (as the name suggests) was placed at the rear of the dressing with the matching pair at either side.
At the turn of the 20th century the hair was worn in a distinctive puffed out style which has become familiar from the drawings of Charles Dana Gibson. This IS known as a Gibson Girl or Pompadour style, and often incorporated the use of underlying pads and false hair. It was supported at the back of the head and sometimes at the sides as well by wide hair combs, which might be as plain or as fancy as the wearer desired. These combs also helped to support the huge hats of the late Victorian and Edwardian period.