A handsome Victorian tiara hair comb with unusual gothic spiky design
CONDITION: one small ball is missing otherwise good vintage condition
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 5 ins w (15 x 13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
MATERIALS: metal, ceramic
Here is an interesting Victorian tiara style hair comb with a very distinctive gothic look. The comb base is made from dyed horn which has been made to resemble mottled tortoiseshell. Attached to this by a rotating hinge is a curved band of antiqued gold tone metal which supports a row of “balls on spikes” like a coronet. The balls appear to be made of a black ceramic or glass and are graduated in size so that the largest is in the centre. Set in the “valleys” between the supports are smaller balls, each set upon a stalk.
The appearance of the design is distinctly gothic which one of the dominant themes is in Victorian art. One of the small balls is missing. My suggestion would be to remove the ball on the opposing side to even up the design. However I will leave this to the new owner.
A salient feature of this hair accessory is that the heading is attached to the prongs by a flexible hinge of gilt metal, which allows it to rotate through 90 or more degrees. This allows the comb to be adjusted to various positions within the coiffure. However the design suggests that is was intended to be worn above the forehead as a tiara. In this latter case the prongs would be concealed among the front hair. This is why ornaments of this type are often called a tiara comb, because in wear they give the effect of a much more formal ornament.
The English upper classes took up the Gothic style, and mingled it with romantic ideas of chivalry and courtesy in fancy dress parties and pageants. This style affected not only architecture but also every aspect of the decorative and creative arts. Throughout the 19th century, one of the favorite amusements of the upper classes was the staging of elaborate costume balls, usually with historic themes.
Jewelry began to show the influence of this Gothic fascination in the early 1800s, and neo-Gothic style jewelry reached its peak between 1830 and 1855. Because there were almost no jewels from the middle Ages to use as models, jewelry designers in England, France and Germany turned to Gothic architecture and decorative arts as sources of inspiration. As a result, Gothic revival style jewelry has a very structural look, frequently incorporating pointed arches.
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