A beautiful mid Victorian cable design hair comb in natural tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear for age
SIZE: 5 ins h x 5½ ins w (13 x 14 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
Here is a very beautiful mid Victorian hair comb made from natural tortoiseshell. The ornament is made in one piece, with the heading and tines all in one. The design of cable chains or openwork loops which we see around the top of the heading is a favourite one at this period. It gives the impression of having been hand carved from a solid piece of the material, but this is not the case.
The collage picture includes similar examples taken from contemporary photographic sources of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. They show variations of the “loops” or chain design and the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
High topped combs like this were extremely popular in the later Victorian era during the 1870s and 1880s. This was due to the debut of the opera Carmen, which promoted a fashion for Spanish style combs with extremely tall headings. Such combs were produced in a variety of materials from tortoiseshell and silver for the higher end of the market down to horn, celluloid and plated metals for the more popular end.
Mid Victorian hair combs and tiaras might be beautifully carved or wrought into fancy shapes like the example here. One of the most important characteristics of tortoiseshell its ability to be melded into various forms. In comb making this means that various decorative elements intended to ornament the headings could be fused in position without apparent joins, giving the appearance of having been hand carved from one large piece. Its thermoplastic properties mean that material may be pressed or shaped to a basic shape in a mould. It can then be further embellished by other decorative treatments. This is how such elaborate designs were formed.
This item is over 100 years old and therefore predates the Endangered Species legislation. If this item includes any CITES Appendix I materials documentation and certificates required by law for commercial sale, import or export, have been obtained for this item and will be included with it at shipment.
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