A pretty matched pair of late Victorian or Edwardian hair pins
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 2 ins w (13 x 5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
The design of this pretty matched pair of two pronged hair combs or hairpins is typical of the smaller and lighter hair accessories which were popular in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. They are made of black celluloid in a rectangular formation, with a decorative panel of scroll work at the apex.
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 around the turn of the twentieth century.
Changes in the manner of dressing the hair in the late 1800s led to a taste for smaller and lighter hair accessories than those which had been fashionable for the previous 20 years. The fashionable style was now the “Gibson Girl” look, where hair was dressed out over pads in a fluffy and feminine style with wisps escaping at the sides. With these softer styles the taste was for smaller ornaments, especially those with a light, openwork appearance.
Hair pins like this are characteristically made in one solid piece of the material, which might be horn, tortoiseshell, or some synthetic like celluloid. They usually have only one or two tines and their top or heading in a simple shape such as a horseshoe or rectangle, sometimes with the addition of rhinestones or a little openwork decoration.
Combs such as there were made in pairs and sets of four and were worn throughout the 19th and early 20th century. They could perform both an ornamental and a useful function, being used to hold the elaborate coiffures of the day in place as well as to adorn the hair. The plainer ones are more likely to have been used simply to hold the style.
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Matched pair Victorian hair combs black celluloid hair ornaments
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