A very fine early Victorian sterling silver dangles hair comb in the Algerian or Moorish style
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 4 ins h x 3½ ins w (10 x 9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1840S – 1850s
MATERIALS: sterling silver
Here is a very beautiful European silver comb which is made in the Moorish or Algerian style.
The comb has eleven metal tines and an elaborate filigree silver heading which comprises three circles. The motif in the centre is the largest of these, and is infilled with ornate filigree scroll work, surmounted by a heart shaped motif. The most striking aspect of the heading design is the arrangement of looped chains with tasselled endings which adorns it. Three pendant tassels hang from the heading. Combs like this are usually known as “peigne d’alger” or Algerian combs.
The comb is marked on the back with the European silver mark 800. The back of the heading also has an engraved signature “E Helmer” which may be the owner or the person for whom the comb was intended. Perhaps it was a gift from a man to his sweetheart or betrothed.
If only the comb could talk to tell us of its adventures!
The collage picture includes similar examples taken from contemporary sources and shows the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
An important influence, which affected the design of jewellery and hair accessories, was the Algerian or Moorish. In the early 1840s the French-Algerian wars led to an interest in Moorish art, and this is strongly reflected in the design of comb headings and hairpins until about 1875. The Crimean War further helped to popularise Turkish and Oriental designs in Britain during the 1860s and 1970s. This “Moorish” or “Algerian” influence was manifested in the use of pseudo-oriental and Islamic motifs and the use of dangling and curiously shaped pendants, looped chains beads and tassels on combs and hairpins.
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