A classic sunray design hair comb in natural steer horn
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 3½ ins w (13 x 9 cm) decorative part 2½ ins h (6 cm)
MATERIALS: steer horn
Here is a pretty steer horn hair comb which has been pierced into an attractive fan shape. It has two long tines and an series of radiating lines which spread out from the center of the heading.
The horn has been left in its natural coloration and not dyed to resemble tortoiseshell, as is so often the case in these combs. Instead with can see the two toned effect of the natural material.
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 photograph shows some examples of similar hair accessories taken from contemporary illustrative sources and reveals the manner in which they were worn.
The heading design is typical of many combs of the period, with radiating lines or panels resembling sunrays, or perhaps the spokes of a wheel. One theory is that the idea of sun rays comes from the popular vogue for sunbathing which began at this time. Previously ladies had shunned the idea of sunbathing. Another theory is that the spoke like designs reflected the wheel, and the obsession with speed and technology. This was the age of the car and the plane after all!
These fan shape Spanish combs became extremely fashionable in Britain and America during the early 20th century. They were worn in a characteristic manner, being placed in the side or back of the hairdressing at an acute angle, and in such a way that the tall heading stood up proud. This enabled the often beautiful openwork decoration or the decorative effect which had been applied to the material, to be viewed from all angles, and for the details to be seen effectively outlined against the light.
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Steer horn hair comb sunray design hair accessory
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