An unusual single prong hair pin in steer horn with mother of pearl embellishment
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6 ins h x 3 ins w (15 x 7.5 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1900s
MATERIALS: steer horn, mother of pearl
Here is one of those unusual single pronged hair ornaments or “hair daggers” which we find in the period around the turn of the 20th century. It is made from horn which has been dyed to resemble the dark mottled form of tortoiseshell. The ornamental heading takes the form of three lobes, each of which is adorned with a carved flower in mother of pearl.
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.
Towards the end of the 19th century the fashion changed, less false hair was used, and styles became simpler. Along with this fashion for closer hair styles came a vogue for ornaments in all manner of eccentric forms such as arrows and daggers.
Alongside the daggers and swords was a vogue for single pronged ornaments which we would now term hair picks or hair sticks. Typically they have a long pointed shaft which pierces the hair. The top or heading is usually decorated in some fancy manner, with pierced work, gilded metal, or stones. These single pronged hair pins appear in a wide variety of materials such as faux tortoiseshell, horn, or celluloid. The best are decorated with materials such as French Jet or mother of pearl.
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