A handsome Victorian French ivory tiara style hair comb featuring “carved” roses and leaves
Lovely for the vintage bride!
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear, has one old repair
SIZE: 4 ins w x 3½ ins h (10 x 9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
MATERIALS: French ivory/synthetic
The ornament is made from an early celluloid substance, popularly known as French ivory, because it was invented to substitute for the much more expensive elephant ivory which was becoming rare and expensive by the early 20th century. It contains no materials from an endangered species.
This lovely French ivory hair comb is a classic hinged Victorian hair ornament. It comprises a two pronged comb mount which is connected to a deeply curved heading piece. Upon this is mounted a design of large full blown rose with typical foliage. The elements of the design give the initial appearance of having been carved “in the round”. However a more careful examination shows that the separate elements have been moulded and then hand assembled to form a cohesive design.
An important feature of the construction is the is the flexible hinge of gilt metal which joins the comb mount to the heading, and allows it to rotate through 90 or more degrees. This enables the comb to be adjusted to various positions within the coiffure. This comb is therefore of the type which may be worn either in the back of the hairdressing or above the forehead as a tiara, In this latter case the prongs would be concealed among the front hair. This is why it is called a tiara comb, because in wear it gives the effect of a much more formal ornament.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary Victorian photographic sources and shows similar items and the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
Victorian hairstyles were very elaborate, most of the interest concentrated on the back of the head. This is apparent in many of the kinds of hair accessories favoured in the mid Victorian period of 1850s – 1870s. Most of these hair accessories are equipped with a hinge which permits the angle of the heading to be adjusted. Therefore they could be placed within the chignon and used to conceal where false hair (essential to these bulky coiffures) may have been added.
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