A large and handsome Art Deco faux tortoiseshell Spanish style comb with leaf and trellis design
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 8 ins h x 5½ ins w (20 x 13 cm) decorative part 5 ins h (13 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 20s
This listing is for a large and handsome Art Deco Spanish style hair comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell. The comb is nicely mottled and has a fan shaped heading with a design of alternating blades in lattice and leaf shapes.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary sources of the early 20th century and shows similar items being worn by sitters.
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.
The motif of radiating blades or panels which appears in the centre of the heading of this comb was an archetypal Art Deco one, and appears in many forms. Sometimes it is abstracted to a series of lines or mere “spokes” which radiate out from the base of the heading. This is a very typical motif in Art Deco combs, and in the art of the period.
Some people interpret the spokes or panels as representing the wheel, and thus symbolising the fascination with speed and machinery. Others believe that the rays represent the sun, and indicate the popular fetish for sun bathing and outdoor exercise. Still others see them as representing the palm leaf, derived from the Egyptian Revival influence which was popular in the 1920s. Whatever the explanation these fan shaped Deco combs are extremely attractive and very typical of their period.
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