A very large French Ivory Spanish style hair comb from the Art Deco period
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 8 ins h x 8 ins w (20 x 20 cm) decorative part 5 ins (13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
Here we have a classic French ivory fan shaped hair comb from the Art Deco period.
The ornament is made from an early celluloid substance, popularly known as French ivory, because it was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century. It contains no materials from an endangered species.
The heading of this large and beautiful hair accessory has an openwork motif which appears to represent ears of corn radiating out from the base of the heading.
This comb is a variety of the iconic design of Art Deco combs whereby “blades” or openwork or solid panels radiate outwards from the base of the heading. This is a very typical motif in Art Deco combs, and in the art of the period. Some people interpret the spokes as representing the wheel, and thus symbolising the Futurist fascination with speed and machinery. This spokes or sunray motif appears in many forms. Sometimes it is abstracted to a series of lines or mere “spokes” which radiate out from the base of the heading.
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. Such large impressive combs are a feature of the early Art Deco period.
The collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments, showing how they were placed in the hair styles of the day.
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