A handsome Spanish style hair comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 7 ins h x 5 ins w (18 x 13 cm) decorative part 4 ins h (10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
This attractive mantilla style hair combs probably dates from the early 20th century when there was a fashion for these very tall Spanish style hair combs. The heading is made in a classic rectangular shape with an attractive cut out design.
The collage picture shows a selection of illustrations taken from contemporary sources which depict similar ornaments and the hair styles with 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.
By the late 19th century genuine tortoiseshell had become very expensive. Therefore most of the hair ornaments which appear to be made of shell are, in fact, made from synthetics. These faux tortoise combs can be very pretty and effective since it is unusual to find two with exactly the same markings. Some of them are very convincing and are skilfully treated to imitate the random brown and orange mottling of genuine tortoiseshell. However, examined with a loupe, genuine shell has a three dimensional quality which cannot be duplicated.
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Mantilla style hair comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell hair orniment