A large and striking Spanish mantilla style hair comb with distinctive fleur de lys design
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 7½ ins h x 5 ins w ins (19 x 13 cm) decorative part 4¼ ins (10.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 18890s – 1900s
Here is a very tall and handsome Spanish mantilla style comb which may have been worn for mourning.
The comb has a very high wedge shaped heading with an over all design of pierced scroll work. The motif of the fleur de lys can be clearly seen in the centre of the heading.
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.
These very tall mantilla style combs were popular in the latter part of the reign of Victoria, during the 1870s and 1880s. 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.
Victorian mourning etiquette decreed that in deep mourning, the widow and close relative of the deceased must dress in plain dark garments with a long veil hanging from the bonnet. The only ornaments allowed to be worn at this time were those of jet, which is a natural material found in Whitby, a small town on the East coast of the UK. In order to extend the supply of jet when it became exhausted, various other materials were employed. One of these was black celluloid.
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