A very pretty Art Nouveau celluloid Spanish style hair comb with hand painted decoration
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6½ ins h x 5 ins w (16 x 13 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, metal, rhinestones
Here is a rather beautiful example of a celluloid mass produced comb from the Art Nouveau period which was then hand painted and finished.
The comb is made in pale translucent celluloid in the Spanish style. It has a large openwork heading which is configured to represent leaves and flowers. This design has been further embellished with hand painting in muted shades of brown, sage green and dull gold. It is further embellished by metal studs which have been given a verdigris finish and dark blue rhinestones.
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.
As the Art Nouveau style gained in popularity, a whole class of popular jewellery was mass produced which reproduced the typical motifs of the genre, but was produced by machine? The first Art Nouveau ornaments were hand made and carved from clarified horn. These were very expensive and were quickly followed by mass produced versions made in celluloid for the popular market.
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