A pair of large and handsome Victorian steer horn hair combs
CONDITION: both combs have some issues see description
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1880s
MATERIALS: steer horn
Here is a pair of Victorian Spanish style combs both made in steer horn. These high topped designs were popular in the mid century.
#1 solid horn comb measures 5 ins h x 5 ins w (13 x 13 cm); decorative part 3 ins h (7.5 cm) This comb has some chips on the tines but is otherwise in good vintage condition. It dates from the 1850s – 1960s
#2 pierced horn comb measures 6½ ins h x 4½ ins w (16 x 11 cm) decorative part 3½ ins h (9 cm). This comb has lost one tine but is otherwise in good vintage condition and still sits firmly in the hair. This comb dates from the 1870s – 1880s
Horn was one of the most popular materials for hair combs in the 19th century. Not only was the material was cheap, but also it could be easily treated to obtain a number of decorative effects. It could be dyed a range of colours. It was always cheaper than tortoiseshell, and was often treated to imitate the distinctive “tortoise” pattern of the more expensive material.
Horn could also be clarified so as to be almost translucent. This gives it the attractive colour of honey, and is a feature of many combs of the period. It could also be carved, pierced, stamped and when heated, twisted into ornamental shapes in a plastic manner. Horn is an extremely flexible material, and when heated it can be bent, pierced and stretched into all manner of forms, almost like plastic.
The final picture illustrates similar hair accessories from contemporary sources and shows the hair styles with which they were used.
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Two steer horn Spanish style Victorian hair combs AS FOUND