A beautiful faux tortoiseshell hair comb with Art Nouveau styling in 9 kt gold
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 2¾ ins h x 4 ins w (7 x 10 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: faux tortoiseshell, gold
Here is a very beautiful faux tortoiseshell back comb which probably dates from the period around the turn of the 20th century. The styling is restrained and classic and all together typical of Art Nouveau ornaments made in Britain, as opposed to the more florid French style.
The ground material is celluloid faux tortoiseshell in a rectangular form with curved outer corners and a slight dip in the center. Affixed to the top of the heading is a fancy decal of gold tone metal with the aforementioned Art Nouveau styling. It is marked 9 kt gold on the top left of the heading.
A back comb is a type of ornament which is specially designed to be worn at the rear of the head. Such ornaments are usually deeply curved to fit the back of the skull, which makes them unsuitable for wearing anywhere else. Typically they are broader than they are high, and have a top of heading finished off with some kind or decoration.
Combs like these reached the peak of their popularity around the turn of the 20th century when the puffed out Gibson Girl hair style was in vogue. This style required support at the back, for which this type of comb was ideal. Back combs also helped to support the very large hats of the period.
The final picture illustrates similar hair accessories from contemporary sources and shows the hair styles with which they were used.
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Art Nouveau hair comb 9 kt gold Art Nouveau design