A striking Art Deco period hair comb with a black and white parti coloured appearance
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 4½ ins w (13 x 11 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1920s – 1930s
MATERIALS: French ivory/synthetic
Here is an interesting Spanish style comb of the Art Deco period made from a substance popularly called “French ivory”. This was a synthetic substance intended to substitute for genuine elephant bone, and contains no material from an endangered species.
The comb has a high wedge shaped heading with a striking parti-coloured effect. It has been manufactured in laminate (also known as celluloid overlay) which produced a two tone effect by layering two pieces of coloured material together. Then the design was carved or incised to expose the contrasting colours. In this case, for example. a cream coloured shell has been overlaid by an upper coat of glossy black, producing an interesting topography with a geometric design which resembles bricks or building blocks.
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.
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