A beautiful Victorian hinged tiara style hair comb with cut steel and faux pearl embellishement
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3½ ins h x 3½ ins w (9 x 9 cm) decorative part 1¼ ins h (3 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1860s – 1880s
MATERIALS: metal, horn, faux pearl
Here we have a classic hinged French comb which probably dates from the Napoleon III period 1850s – 1860s. This would make a very beautiful and unusual headpiece for a vintage bride who was looking for something different, It would also suit a re-enactor for a special ball.
The ornament has a comb mount of translucent amber dyed horn, attached to which is a curved heading. The heading is an elaborate arrangement of cut steel and faux pearl cabochons and spheres combined. It is unusual to see cut steel combined with other elements in this way. However the technique was sometimes further embellished with beads of jet, enamel or other materials
The design is a classic one of scrolls and formalised foliage made up from both circular and pear shaped faceted steels. The faux pearls come in both cabochons and spheres, and again are of different sizes. This combination of elements in different shapes and sizes is regarded as the hallmark of a quality piece.
As in most of these hinged combs, the prongs of this large and handsome example are made from horn. The main feature is the heading of gilt ormolu, which is made in a typical arched shape, and is adjustable through a full 180 degrees. The comb is technically sophisticated, being attached to the prongs by a flexible hinge of gilt metal, which allows it to rotate through 90 or more degrees. This enables the comb to be adjusted to various positions within the coiffure.
FURTHER INFORMATION: This comb is of the type which may be worn either in the back of the hairdressing or above the forehead as a tiara, In this latter case the prongs would be concealed among the front hair. This is why it is called a tiara comb, because in wear it gives the effect of a much more formal ornament.
The use of cut steel is very characteristic of the Victorian period. Cut steel combs and tiaras are characteristically made with headings covered with studs of faceted steel and riveted to a backing plate of white metal. It is unusual to find them combined with pearls, as here. In the best examples of steel work there is a combination of different sizes and shapes of studs in the same ornament. When the studs are in good condition and well-polished they give a nice sparkle to the comb.
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