A well marked mid Victorian Spanish style hair comb in tortoiseshell
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 6 ins h x 5 ins w (15 x 13 cm) decorative part 3½ ins h (9 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1870s – 1880s
This fine and large Spanish style tortoiseshell comb probably dates from the mid to later Victorian period. The ornament is fashioned out of one large solid piece of the mid brown mottled form of tortoiseshell. The material is very nicely marked and polished. The “tortoise” type patterning is very pronounced, with well defined mottling of lighter semi transparent patches on a dark opaque ground.
The final picture is taken from a contemporary photograph which illustrate the fashionable hair dressing and the hair accessories of the period. We can see that both sitters are wearing similar round topped hair accessories.
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.
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.
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, will be included with it at shipment.
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Victorian natural tortoiseshell hair comb Spanish mantilla style