A pretty late Victorian hair comb with fancy decorative heading
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4½ ins w (7.5 x 11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid faux tortoiseshell, metal, glass stones
Here is a pretty back comb dating from the late Victorian or Edwardian period. The ground material is imitation tortoiseshell. A metal embellishment depicting leaves and flowers has been attached to the top of the heading by rivets sunk into the ground material. This is further embellished by small purple glass stones and a circular metal “cameo” with a female head set into the center.
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 such as a metal application or rhinestones.
The collage picture shows examples taken from contemporary illustrations and shows how such ornaments were used and worn in the fashionable hair styles.
Combs like this were immensely popular in the period around the turn of the 20th century when they helped support the puffed out Gibson Girl hair dressing and the huge hats of the period. In this style the hair was fluffed out over pads and the fashionable back combs or large barrettes helped to support the back hair. Combs like this are often found in sets of three in fitted cases, with a larger and more elaborate comb to fit the back of the head and smaller ones for the sides.
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Late Victorian hair comb with cameo embellishment hair ornament