A large and handsome mantilla style hair comb from the late Victorian period
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear for age
SIZE: 7½ ins h x 4½ ins w (19 x 11 cm) decorative part 4½ ins h (11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
Here is a large and handsome Spanish style hair comb made from celluloid faux tortoiseshell. It has a high wedge shape heading with an attractive openwork design and a scalloped top profile.
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 final picture shows a selection of similar hair accessories from contemporary illustrations and the elaborate hair styles in which they were worn.
The hairstyles of the mid-Victorian period were large and impressive, with vast quantities of false hair being used to form a huge chignon or, for the evening, trailing ringlets... Therefore the ornaments which were used to adorn them were often equally large and impressive. Large and handsome combs would have been used by a fashionable Victorian lady to adorn the back of the hair, probably being placed above a large chignon. For day they were made of plain horn or tortoiseshell, carved or twisted into ornate designs. For evening, no ornament could be too large or too elaborate.
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Victorian faux tortoiseshell hair comb large Spanish style hair ornament