An unusual parti coloured Art Deco hair comb in red and black
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5 x 4 ins (13 x 10 cm) decorative part 2½ ins (6 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
The comb has been manufactured in two distinct shades of celluloid. This is a decorative effect known as “celluloid overlay” where one colour is laid over a contrasting one during the production process. Here, a foundation of hot red has been given an upper coating of glossy black. This creates an interesting two toned topography when the upper coating is cut through to show the lower. Here the effect can be seen most clearly on the edges of the openwork design and the tips of the tines.
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.
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.
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.
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