A fine mid Victorian period cut steel barrette
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 1 ins h x 3 ins w (2.5 x 7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1860s – 1880s
It is unusual to find cut steel used on a Victorian hair barrette. My feeling is that this ornament was originally a comb heading from which the tines has broken off, and that it was later adapted for wear as a barrette. However the job appears to have been done in a professional manner by a jeweller.
The arched design is very typical of comb headings of the mid Victorian period. It comprises five graduated roundels, composed of closely packed steels. Set between these are leaf like motifs, composed of marquise shaped steels. Set beneath is a double row of faceted steel studs.
The fastening of the barrette is strong and sturdy and closes securely.
The use of cut steel is very characteristic of the Victorian period. Production of cut-steel goods began in the early 1800s and continued until the end of the century, although the later examples tend to be very crude in comparison with earlier ones.
Cut steel combs and tiaras are characteristically made with headings covered with studs of faceted steel and riveted to a backing plate of white metal. In the best examples of steel work there is a combination of different sizes and shapes of studs in the same ornament. Here steels of several different shapes and sizes (both spherical and marquise shape) have been used, and this is always a hallmark of good quality cut-steel.
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