A novel late Victorian hair pin in the form of a sword or dagger
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 8 ins h x 2½ ins w (20 x 6 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
Here we have a very unusual hair ornament made in the form of a sword or dagger. It is executed in light coloured celluloid faux tortoiseshell with a long wavy shaft to pierce the hair.
Such ornaments were worn as shown in the collage picture which shows examples from contemporary sources.
Towards the end of the 19th century the fashion in hair styling changed, less false hair was used, and styles became simpler. Along with this fashion for closer hair styles came a vogue for ornaments in all manner of eccentric forms. As well as all kinds of birds, animals and even insects we find hair ornaments in the form of fearsome looking weapons. So the fashionable lady’s topknot might be pierced by swords, daggers, arrows, or axes. It is as though no object was too odd or unusual to decorate milady’s coiffure.
Alongside the daggers and swords was a vogue for single pronged ornaments which we would now term hair picks or hair sticks. Typically they have a long pointed shaft which pierces the hair. The top or heading is usually decorated in some fancy manner, with pierced work, gilded metal, or stones. These single pronged hair pins appear in a wide variety of materials such as faux tortoiseshell, horn, or celluloid. The best are decorated with materials such as French Jet or mother of pearl.
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