A handsome Regency or late Georgian tortoiseshell hair comb with a pressed design
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 7 ins h x 6½ ins w (18 x 16 cm) decorative part 3½ ins h (9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1820s – 1830s
Here is a very beautiful Regency or late Georgian comb in natural pressed tortoiseshell. High mantilla style combs such as this were at the peak of their popularity during the late 1820s and early 1830s. However their height diminished to more modest proportions by the accession of Victoria,
The comb is fashioned out of one large solid piece of the mid brown mottled form of faux tortoiseshell. The material is very nicely marked and polished. The “tortoise” type patterning is very pronounced, with well defined mottling of lighter semi transparent patches on a dark opaque ground.
The heading has a broad shell like shape, with a scalloped upper border. This very beautiful example has nine long slender tines. However these tines are all nicely pointed, not broken or chipped at the bottom as in many shell combs. The comb has no other ornamentation and the mottled random pattern of the material is its chief beauty.
The collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary sources and depicts similar ornaments and how they were placed in the hair styles of the day. We can see that the fashionable hair dressing was extremely elaborate, with the hair drawn up into stiffened bow like shapes (often false) placed on the crown of the head. To this erection other ornaments such as flowers, feathers, and long elaborate pins were often added for the most formal occasions. The large and beautiful combs which we see, chiefly made from tortoiseshell, pierced horn or metal, were added as a finishing touch, and to add some support to the finished result.
We must remember that the women who wore these ornate hair styles had plenty of leisure and servants to help them dress.
This lovely comb, as previously mentioned, has been impressed with a delicately fluted design which resembles a shell. Combs with an impressed design are most often found in steer horn because of its thermoplastic qualities. However natural tortoiseshell, which has similar qualities, 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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