A beautiful late Victorian or Edwardian back comb with gilded decoration
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear for age
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 4½ ins w (9 x 11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell, gilding, rhinestones
Here is a very beautiful gilded back comb dating from the period around the turn of the 20th century.
The ground material is celluloid faux tortoiseshell which is heavily embellished across the top of the heading with a gilded design of flowers and foliage. This is further embellished by small clear rhinestones set at intervals. The design shows some Art Nouveau influence in the treatment of the flower heads and the interlacement of the leaves and stems.
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.
At this period a very popular hairdressing was known as the Gibson Girl, from the drawings of the writer Charles Dana Gibson. In this style the hair was swept up in a padded or fluffed out arrangement of soft fullness. Such combs were popular for supporting the puffed out Gibson Girl hairdressing which was fashionable around the turn of the 20th century. They also helped to support the huge hats of the period.
A back comb is a type of hair accessory specifically designed to be worn at the back of the hairdressing above, below or within the chignon. It is usually identified by a deep curve made to fit the skull. These combs are usually wider than they are high, and have an elaborate heading or top decorated in some way.
Ornaments dating from the late Victorian and Edwardian periods tend be very elaborate and to be decorated with rhinestones set into a metal frame or ornate gilding, like the example here.
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