A handsome celluloid faux tortoiseshell late Victorian hair comb or hair pin
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6 ins h x 1½ ins w (15 x 4 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
This beautifully marked faux tortoiseshell comb is an excellent example of the smaller and daintier hair accessories which were worn at the end of the Victorian period.
It has three tines and a tall pointed heading made with a slight twist to it. Sword and dagger shaped hairpins were in vogue, together with single pronged ornaments which we would now term hair picks or hair sticks. These sharply pointed hair combs and pins appear in a wide variety of materials such as faux tortoiseshell, horn, or celluloid. Some are decorated with rhinestones or fancy openwork. Others, like the example here, rely upon their beautiful patina and dramatic shape for effect.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary sources and shows similar items and how they are worn in fashionable hair styles of the day
Fashions in hair dressing changed in the last ten tears of the 19th century. The styles were simpler and a softer, fluffier appearance was fashionable. Along with these softer and more feminine coiffures hair accessories grew smaller, lighter and more delicate.
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.
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