An attractive carved and pierced Spanish style hair comb in natural tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 4 ins w (10 x 10 cm) decorative part 1¼ ins h (2.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1840s – 1860s
Here is a very beautiful carved and pierced tortoiseshell comb and dating from the early to mid Victorian period. The ornament is made in one piece, with the heading and tines all in one.
This lovely ornament has been carved and pierced into a design which represents openwork stars, a favourite motif with combs of this type. It has also been impressed with a design of florals and scroll work. The design covers the heading and is even impressed upon the tops of the thicker endmost tines.
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.
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.
Combs with an impressed design are most often found in steer horn, but natural tortoiseshell could also be treated in this manner to obtain elaborate decorative effects. Combs known as “pressed” were manufactured by pressing and squeezing the material between heated iron plates until it softened. It could then be placed into in mould and would retain the desired shape when it cooled. Many of these pressed combs have an elaborate design impressed into the surface which appears to be hand carved but was, in fact, produced by this mechanical process. The combs were subsequently hand finished. Combined with techniques such as dying and piercing, many of these pressed combs were both elaborate and beautiful.
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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