A handsome celluloid faux tortoiseshell Spanish style hair comb from the Victorian period.
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5 ins h x 3½ ins w (13 x 9 cm) decorative part 2½ ins h (6 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s – 1880s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
Here is a very beautiful mid Victorian hair comb made from faux tortoiseshell. The ornament is made in one piece, with the heading and tines all in one. The design of interlaced scroll work and open panels gives the impression of having been hand carved from a solid piece of the material, but this is not the case. In fact is was moulded to resemble this effect.
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.
The collage picture includes similar examples taken from contemporary photographic sources of the late Victorian period, and shows 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.
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