A handsome Art Nouveau French ivory Spanish mantilla style hair comb
For the bride who likes something different
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 3 ins w (13 x 7.5 cm) decorative par 2½ ins h (6 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 20s
MATERIALS: French ivory/synthetic, rhinestones, metal studs
This 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 pretty comb has a high wedge shaped heading with an openwork design featuring open scroll work that has an Art Nouveau styling. It is further embellished with black enamel, metal studs and clear rhinestones.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary photographic sources and shows similar items and 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.
As the Art Nouveau style gained in popularity, a whole class of popular jewellery was mass produced this reproduced the typical motifs of the genre, but was produced by machine. The first Art Nouveau ornaments were hand made and carved from clarified horn. These were very expensive and were quickly followed by mass produced versions made in celluloid for the popular market.
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