An unusual Victorian asymmetric silver plated mantilla style hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 4½ ins w (13 x 7.5 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s – 1880s
MATERIALS: silver plated metal
Here is an interesting Spanish style hair comb of asymmetric design which dates from the later Victorian period. The ornament is made from silver plated metal (usually brass) with an elaborately pierced design inclined to the right.
The collage picture includes an example of a sitter wearing a similar comb. It is taken from a contemporary Victorian carte de visite photograph and shows 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.
High topped combs like this were extremely popular in the later Victorian era during the 1870s and 1880s. This was due to the debut of the opera Carmen, which promoted a fashion for Spanish style combs with extremely tall headings. Such combs were produced in a variety of materials from tortoiseshell and silver for the higher end of the market down to horn, celluloid and plated metals for the more popular end.
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