A handsome matched pair of late Victorian side combs with pique decoration
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear for age
SIZE: 2 ins h x 3½ ins w (5 x 9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, gold metallic studs
Here is a very attractive pair of late Victorian side combs. They are made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell and decorated with gold pique in an elaborate undulating design.
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. We can see how such combs were often used on either side of the head to hold the hair back from the face. Another popular use was on either side of a central parting to hold the bangs of hair in place.
This decorative treatment is the inlaying of precious metals into another material, usually tortoiseshell, but occasionally horn or other substances. This technique has a long history, and was extensively used for the decoration of hair combs and other personal adornments during the reign of Victoria. When gently heated, usually by insertion in hot water, natural organic materials soften to permit the inlaying of small pieces of metal or other substance. When cool, the ground material contracts to hold the pieces in tightly in place without the need for adhesive. Pique is usually found all in gold but in the very best pieces is combined with silver or other materials such as mother of pearl, and is applied in sheets as well as dots.
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