An unusual Art Deco style hair comb with a spider’s web design on the heading
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6 ins h x 4½ ins w (15 x 11 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
A fine example of an Art Deco hair comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell.
The ornament has the tall wedge shaped heading which is typical of the period. Another iconic feature of the design is the manner in which “rays” radiate out from a central dome in the heading. This is a modified version of the so-called sunray design which we find on many combs of the period.
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 “sunray” motif in the centre of the heading of this comb was an archetypal Art Deco one, and appears in many forms. Sometimes it is abstracted to a series of lines or mere spokes which radiate out from the base of the heading. This is a very typical motif in Art Deco combs, and in the art of the period. Some people interpret the spokes as representing the wheel, and thus symbolising the fascination with speed and machinery. Others believe that the rays represent the sun, and indicate the popular fetish for sun bathing and outdoor exercise.
Whatever the explanation these Deco combs are extremely attractive and very typical of their period and it is unusual to find two which are exactly the same in their treatment of the motif.
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