A classic late Victorian tortoiseshell hair ornament with fancy top
CONDITION: there are some small dings to the points on the upper right otherwise good vintage condition with acceptable wear
SIZE: 4 ins h x 4 ins w (10 x 10 cm) decorative part 1½ ins h (4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s – 1880s
Here is a large and handsome tortoiseshell hair comb dating from the mid to later Victorian era. It has a curved wedge shaped heading with a fancy design of clubs and triangles running along the top border. The comb has been carved out of old solid piece of the dark brown mottled form of shell and has a very nicely marked configuration of lighter splodges on the dark background.
Large solid tortoiseshell combs like this remained a favourite hair ornament throughout the Victorian period. They were made out of one piece of the material with integral heading and tines. They come in various classic shapes – curved, rectangular, wedge shaped, scalloped and sometimes, as here, with a spiky top profile. All these ornaments rely mostly upon the natural beauty of the mottled “tortoiseshell” design for their appeal. The most prized are those where lighter translucent patches of light brown or orange are strongly marked and widely distributed across a dark background which is highly polished.
The final picture is taken from contemporary fashion illustrations and shows the hair accessories and hair dressing of the period.
The hairstyles of the mid-Victorian period were large and impressive, with vast quantities of false hair being used to form a huge chignon. Therefore the ornaments which were used to adorn them were often equally large and impressive. Large and handsome combs would have been used by a fashionable Victorian lady to adorn the back of the hair, probably being placed above a chignon. For day they were made of plain horn or shell, carved, twisted or stamped into ornate designs.
This item is over 100 years old and therefore predates the Endangered Species legislation. If this item includes any CITES Appendix I materials documentation and certificates required by law for commercial sale, import or export, have been obtained for this item and will be included with it at shipment.
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Victorian tortoiseshell hair comb Spanish style hair accessory