A regency or early Victorian fire gilt tiara with garnet type stones
CONDITION: 1 jewel is missing from the right side otherwise good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 1 ins h x 6 ins w (2.5 x 15 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1840s – 1860s
MATERIALS: metal, glass stones
This is a lovely late Georgian or Regency period tiara comb in filigree made from fire gilded brass. Apart from one absent motif on the extreme right it is in excellent condition and still has its original brass comb mount. All the tines are in fairly good condition, not broken off. Note that it is usually possible to unscrew the comb mount so that the decorative heading or top can be made to face in either direction. This lovely comb is ready for wearing by a re-enactor or adding to a collection of regency ornaments.
The tiara part comprises a curved band next to the hair which is decorated with the usual engraved floral design. Set above this is an openwork gallery with a scroll work motif, and surmounted by a single row of ruby coloured faceted stones. Each “ruby” has a scroll motif set between it and its fellows.
This one may originally have been part of a set, consisting of a matching comb and tiara in a fitted case. The usual metal for them was silver, or silver gilt, (which is sterling silver which has been over-gilded), or as in this case, fire-gilt brass. This is nowadays usually given the name Pinchbeck. This metal gives the appearance of gold because it does not tarnish, although in fact it contains no gold at all.
Tiara mounts such as this, also called frontlets, were often purchased as part of a set which may contain a number of frontlets in different materials. The final picture is a compilation of some of the various illustrations wearing similar head ornaments and taken from paintings of the same period.
A form of hair comb which appeared in the early 19th century was what we now call a tiara comb. This is an ornament in which the teeth or prongs are set at a 90 degree angle to the decorative heading. When the object is worn the backwards projecting teeth are concealed beneath the front hair, and the upstanding front piece gives the appearance of a tiara proper.
In France, where most of these decorative tiara combs were produced, it was possible to secure matching sets. The ornamental headings, which were called frontlets, were secured to a detachable set of teeth by a small clip or screw fitting at either end or in the centre. A set might therefore contain a set of plain brass teeth, and two or three frontlets in different materials which could be changed to suit the occasion.
Faux pearls, coral and various collared semi precious gemstones or pastes were the favourite modes of decoration. The frontlets were made in a fairly limited range of openwork patterns, such as florals, feathers, scrollwork or clusters of grapes, with the decorative stones placed to accentuate the design. Other classic type designs such as the Greek key or fret pattern and laurel wreath designs were also popular. These frontlets were often finished off along the top edge with a series of upstanding pins, each of which accommodated a faceted bead or jewel.
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Regency period fire gilded tiara garnet stones hair ornament