A beautiful Art Nouveau styled hair comb with jade cabochons
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4¼ ins w (7.5 x 10.5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, metal, glass stones
Here is a very pretty back comb with Art Nouveau styling of the type which became popular around the turn of the 20th century.
The ornament is made in amber coloured blonde celluloid with a decorative panel in burnished copper which is riveted to the ground material. It has a design representing foliage and is further embellished by three circular cabochons of mottled jade coloured glass in bezel settings.
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.
A back comb is a type of hair ornament which is specifically designed to be worn on the rear of the dressing. It is deeply curved on the horizontal plane to fit comfortably against the curve of the skull. Such combs are usually wider than they are high, their primary purpose being to support and ornament an up do. They are usually finished along the top of the heading with some form of decoration. This may take the form of an openwork panel, or of a metal framework set with real or imitation jewels which is attached to the ground material.
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Art Nouveau hair comb with faux jade cabochons
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