An unusual Regency period fire gilded brass tiara hair ornament with blown glass beads
CONDITION: good vintage condition with acceptable wear for age
SIZE: 1 ins h x 6 ins w (2.5 x 15 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1800 – 1820s
MATERIALS: metal, blown glass beads
This is a lovely late Georgian or Regency period tiara comb in filigree made from fire gilded brass. It is in excellent condition and still has all its original embellishments of blue blown glass.
The tiara comprises a curved openwork double gallery. The lower gallery has an openwork design with U shaped openings, each of which is occupied by a faceted bead of turquoise coloured glass. Above this is a row of blue glass beads which are strung upon fine brass wire, and housed in a special channel between the upper and lower galleries. The upper gallery has a more elaborate asymmetric design of scroll like motifs which point inward and meet in the center front. A further row of faceted turquoise beads are set upon spikes along the top.
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. This tiara 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. A set of these comb fittings is included in the final collage photograph. This also includes a sitter with a blue bead tiara very similar to the one here.
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. The collage picture shows an example of how these combs might be worn at the back of the dressing, with a matching tiara or frontlet above the forehead.
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 favorite 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 tiara fire gilded blue glass beads headdress hair ornament
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