A fine Regency or late Georgian fire gilded tiara comb set with blue glass faux turquoise.
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4½ ins h x 7½ ins w (11 x 19 cm) height at center front 1½ ins (4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1800s – 1830s
MATERIALS: metal, glass
This is a lovely late Georgian or Regency period tiara comb in filigree made from fire gilded brass. It is in excellent condition and still has its brass comb mount. All the tines are in good condition too, not bent or broken.
The tiara comprises a curved openwork double gallery with a design of double scrolls and foliage which meet in the centre front. Set above this on a row of spikes is a graduated row of larger cabochon stones which simulate turquoise. They are oval in shape and are made from opaline glass,
This ornament may originally have been part of a set, consisting of a matching comb and tiara in a fitted case. The usual metal for them was silver, or silver gilt, (which is sterling silver which has been over-gilded), or as in this case, fire-gilt brass. This is nowadays usually given the name Pinchbeck. This metal gives the appearance of gold because it does not tarnish, although in fact it contains no gold at all.
Tiara mounts such as this, also called frontlets, were often purchased as part of a set which may contain a number of frontlets in different materials. The final collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments, showing how they were placed in the hair styles of the day.
In France, where most of these decorative tiara combs were produced, it was possible to secure matching sets. The ornamental headings, which were called frontlets, were secured to a detachable set of teeth by a small clip or screw fitting at either end or in the centre. A set might therefore contain a set of plain brass teeth, and two or three frontlets in different materials which could be changed to suit the occasion.
Faux pearls, coral and various collared semi precious gemstones or pastes were the favourite modes of decoration. The frontlets were made in a fairly limited range of openwork patterns, such as florals, feathers, scrollwork or clusters of grapes, with the decorative stones placed to accentuate the design. Other classic type designs such as the Greek key or fret pattern and laurel wreath designs were also popular. These frontlets were often finished off along the top edge with a series of upstanding pins, each of which accommodated a faceted bead or jewel.
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