A handsome faux tortoiseshell hair comb in Spanish mantilla style
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 3 ins w (10 x 7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell
Here is a fine Spanish style comb dating from the later Victorian period.
The ornament is made in one piece from celluloid faux tortoiseshell. It has two tines and openwork heading with upstanding motifs which resemble the motifs of clubs and spades, found on a set of playing cards.
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.
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.
The surface of the material in this hair ornament is beautifully marked with the typical “tortoise” style mottling and is a very faithful imitation of genuine shell. Many of the later 19th century the hair ornaments which appear to be made of tortoise are, in fact, made from synthetics. These faux tortoise combs are some of the prettiest to be found at this period, since it is unusual to find two exactly alike. Some of them are very convincing and difficult to distinguish from the genuine material, and are skillfully treated to imitate the brown and orange mottling of genuine tortoiseshell.
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