A handsome Art Deco wide back comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 4 ins h x 7½ ins w (10 x 19 cm) decorative part 1½ ins h (4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1910s – 1920s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell
Here is a large and striking Art Deco back comb. The ornament is made in celluloid faux tortoiseshell and wraps around the head like a bandeau. Such combs were characteristically worn above a low chignon if the wearer had long hair. This is a design that was popular in the period 1910-25. Along the top are a series of decorative graduated openings, which resemble a chain link. These were a favourite device at this period.
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.
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 comb is of the type called a bandeau or shingle comb, because in wear it encircles the back of the head rather like a bandeau. During this period, many women had their hair cut short in the extremely short crop called the “shingle” but later regretted it. These combs were designed to hold the growing wisps of hair at the nape of a lady who had decided to re-grow her hair, where it was not yet long enough to be gathered into a chignon. Sometimes the hair was long enough to roll over at the nape. The wide part of the comb encircled the back of the head, like a bandeau, and kept these short locks tidily in order.
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Art Deco wide hair comb faux tortoiseshell hair accessory
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