A large and handsome faux tortoiseshell Victorian Spanish style comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6¼ ins h x 3½ ins w (15.5 x 9 cm) decorative part 3½ ins h (9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
Here is a classic faux tortoiseshell comb of the type which was worn in the mid to later Victorian period. The comb has a high pointed heading with an asymmetric design which is inclined to one side. The open heading panel features a pieced design of flowers and leaves with distinctive Art Nouveau influence.
The ornament is fashioned out of one large solid piece of the mid brown mottled form of faux tortoiseshell. The material is very nicely marked and polished. The “tortoise” type patterning is very pronounced, with well defined mottling of lighter semi transparent patches on a dark opaque ground. The comb has seven tines which are nicely shaped and have no loss or breakage.
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.
The collage picture shows further examples of such hair accessories and the hair styles with which they were worn
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Large Victorian faux tortoiseshell hair comb asymmetric styling