A striking late Victorian mourning hair comb with French jet rhinestone embellishment
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6 ins h x 3 ins w (15 x 7.5 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, French jet
Here is a handsome late Victorian mourning hair comb which probably dates from the late 19th or possibly early 20th century. This is suggested by the asymmetric design which resembles a series of leaf shapes with the tips inclined to the left.
The comb is executed in glossy black celluloid and is further embellished with rhinestones of French jet.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary sources and shows similar items and the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
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.
French jet is a glittering form of black glass which has nothing to do with France, but was produced mainly in Bohemia, now part of modern Czechoslovakia, in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was extremely popular for jewellery making. It was also popular for mourning jewelry.
The importance of Victorian mourning etiquette upon the production of jewelry and personal ornaments was very marked. This etiquette decreed that in deep mourning, the widow and close relative of the deceased must dress in plain dark garments. 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 French jet.
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