A striking French ivory hair comb with Art Nouveau styling
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6½ ins h x 4½ ins w (16 x 11 cm) decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
Here is a very attractive French ivory hair comb from the early 20th century. It has Art Nouveau styling in the open work panel which decorated the high wedge shaped heading.
The collage photograph shows some examples of similar hair accessories taken from contemporary illustrative sources, and reveals the manner and hair styles in which they were worn.
The first Art Nouveau hair accessories made by master craftsmen were too expensive for ordinary people. However they were quickly followed by a class of mass produced jewellery at more affordable prices. Synthetics like celluloid were used in place of horn and tortoiseshell. Materials like mother of pearl, coral and semi precious stones were substituted with glass stones. This pretty comb is an example of such mass produced ornaments which employed and popularised the motifs of Art Nouveau.
This frequently large Spanish style 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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Art Nouveau hair comb French ivory Spanish style hair ornament