A handsome late Victorian back comb with gold pique decorative trim
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear to pique inlay
SIZE: 2½ ins h x 5 ins w (6 x 13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell, gold metal inlay
Here we have a handsome and classic pique comb which dates from the period around the turn of the 20th century.
The comb is made from celluloid faux tortoiseshell and has the usual wide narrow heading. This is decorated with a border of gold pique inlay.
A back comb is. As its name implies, a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the rear of the hairdressing. It may be placed above, below or within the chignon according to the fancy of the wearer. It is usually identified by a deep curve made to fit the skull. Such combs are usually wider than they are high and often have an elaborate heading or top decorated in some way.
At the turn of the 20th century the hair was worn in a distinctive puffed out style which has become familiar from the drawings of Charles Dana Gibson. This is known as a Gibson Girl or Pompadour style, and often incorporated the use of underlying pads and false hair. It was supported at the back of the head and sometimes at the sides as well by wide hair combs, which might be as plain or as fancy as the wearer desired. These combs also helped to support the huge hats of the late Victorian and Edwardian period.
Pique is the decorative treatment of inlaying precious metals into another material, usually tortoiseshell, but occasionally horn or other substances. This technique was extensively used for the decoration of hair combs and other personal adornments during the reign of Victoria. When gently heated, usually by insertion in hot water, natural organic materials soften to permit the inlaying of small pieces of metal or other substance. When cool, the ground material contracts to hold the pieces in tightly in place without the need for adhesive.
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