A handsome French ivory bandeau style hair comb from the Art Deco period
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 4 ins w x 4½ ins h (11 x 11.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s-20s
MATERIALS: French ivory/synthetic
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 handsome French ivory hair comb of the type called a bandeau or shingle comb, because in wear it encircles the back of the head rather like a bandeau. It was characteristically worn above a low chignon if the wearer had long hair. This is a design that was popular in the period 1910-25.
The collage picture includes examples taken from contemporary sources and shows similar items and the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
During this period, many women had their hair cut short in the extremely short crop called the “shingle”, but later regretted it. These combs were designed to hold the growing wisps of hair at the nape of a lady who had decided to re-grow her hair, where it was not yet long enough to be gathered into a chignon. Sometimes the hair was long enough to roll over at the nape. The wide part of the comb encircled the back of the head, like a bandeau, and kept these short locks tidily in order.
The term “French” may have been deliberately adopted to add a certain cachet to enhance the image of an otherwise unremarkable material in a similar way to that employed for French jet (black glass in imitation of genuine Whitby jet).
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