Two late Victorian mourning hair combs decorated with French jet
CONDITION: each comb has a jet bead missing although difficult to discern otherwise good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5½ ins h x 2 ins w (14 x 5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, French jet
Here are two fine jet decorated hair combs. They are not a matched pair, one being slightly larger. However they would still work together for use in a re-enactor hair style.
The combs each have two tines of black dyed celluloid and a curved heading which is decorated with inset pieces of faceted French jet.
The collage picture shows similar hair ornaments taken from contemporary illustrative sources and the hair styles with which they were worn.
French jet is a glittering form of black glass which has nothing to do with France, but was produced mainly in Bohemia, now part of modern Czechoslovakia, in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was extremely popular for jewellery making.
The importance of Victorian mourning etiquette upon the production of jewellery and personal ornaments was very important. This etiquette decreed that in deep mourning, the only ornaments allowed to be worn at this time were those of jet, which is a natural material found in Whitby, a small town on the East coast of the UK. In order to extend the supply of jet when it became exhausted, various other materials were employed. One of these was French jet. Many beautiful combs and hairpins are found in this attractive and fragile material. Alas, they are often found chipped and damaged or with missing pieces. These combs have some minor losses but are otherwise in good condition and complete.
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