A handsome two pronged late Victorian hair comb with Damascene or Toledo ware
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear for age
SIZE: 4 ins h x 1½ ins w (10 x 4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell, metal
Here is an attractive hair comb which probably dates from the late Victorian or Edwardian period. It is made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell with a curved top which is decorated with Damascene or Toledo work.
The design features fabulous animals placed amid foliage and scroll work and is typical of the technique used to decorate such ornaments.
The collage picture includes similar examples taken from contemporary photographic sources of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods and shows the fashionable hair dressing of the day.
Simple two pronged hair accessories like these are characteristically made in one solid piece of the material, which might be horn, tortoiseshell, or some synthetic like celluloid. They usually have only one or two tines and their top or heading in a simple shape such as a horseshoe or rectangle, sometimes with the addition of rhinestones or a little openwork decoration.
Combs such as there were made in pairs and sets of four and were worn throughout the 19th and early 20th century. They could perform both an ornamental and a useful function, being used to hold the elaborate coiffures of the day in place as well as to adorn the hair. The plainer ones are more likely to have been used simply to hold the style.
Damascene "Damasquinado de Oro or "Damasquino" is the art of decorating non-precious metals with gold. It has roots in the Middle Ages and originates from the oriental-style artisan work done in Damascus, Syria. The craft, perfected by the Arabs and brought with them to Spain, has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries. Damascene items generally reflect two distinct traditional types of patterns; the Arabesque or geometric designs, and the Renaissance motifs, displaying variations of birds and flowers.
These patterns are obtained by engraving deep, patterned cuts into steel and then placing a gold foil into the lines of the design. This foil is hammered until the gold (18/greenish and 24/yellow carat) penetrates into the cuts, forming the design. Each piece is treated with a bluing solution to obtain oxidation and a black background is created. The back of all Damascene pieces are finished with gold metal. Toledo is the world's largest center of production of Damascene. The city of Toledo is one of the richest historically and culturally endowed cities in all of Spain.
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