A handsome Victorian hinged hair comb with brass decoration
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear, missing pendants
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4 ins w (7.5 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1860s
MATERIALS: steer horn, brass
Here is a classic Victorian hinged hair comb which probably dates from the 1850s – 1860s. The ornament comprises a comb mount in natural steer horn which has been dyed a mid translucent brown. Attached to this by a brass hinge is a curved heading of brass, which has a number of brass droplet shaped pieces attached to it. The design is these pieces is asymmetric so that they all face the same way.
Each of the brass droplets has a small wire loop attached to the end, indicating that something one hung from the drops. These may have been a series of pendants in faux pearl or some other material. Another possibility is that a series of fine chains was looped from one side to the other, an arrangement which was very popular in combs of this period. Whatever the answer this is still a very attractive hair ornament and well deserving of being suitably embellished by a clever crafter or nimble fingered collector.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary Victorian sources and shows similar items and the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
Victorian hairstyles were very elaborate, with 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. Long ornamental pendants which hang down over the back hair were fashionable. Others combs have small hooks or rings on the underside of the heading to which ribbons or lace flounces could be attached. There was a definite preference for accessories that were specifically designed to be worn in the rear.
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