A pretty dyed horn hair comb with an openwork design simulating tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 6 ins h x 4 ins w (15 x 10 cm) decorative part 2 ins (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1900s
MATERIALS: steer horn
Here is an attractive two pronged comb or hairpin which has a circular heading, having a lacy openwork design.
The ornament is made from buffalo horn which has been dyed to resemble the more expensive and desirable tortoiseshell. 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.
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.
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