A spiky top celluloid faux tortoiseshell hair comb from the Victorian era
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6 ins h x 3 ins w (15 x 7.5 cm) decorative part 3½ ins h (9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
The design of this pretty four pronged hair comb is typical of the smaller and lighter hair accessories which were popular in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. It is made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell with a distinctive design.
The spiky profile which this comb produces when in wear was a popular one at this period. The collage photograph shows some examples of similar spiky hair accessories taken from contemporary illustrative sources, and reveals the manner and hair styles in which they were worn.
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. Such combs are worn placed high on the head in order to allow the beauty of their ornamental cresting to be admired.
Spanish style combs remained popular into the 20th century, but 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. With these softer styles the taste was for smaller ornaments, especially those with a light, openwork appearance.
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Victorian hair comb pressed faux tortoiseshell hair ornament