Am attractive Victorian mourning hair pin in French jet
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 5 ins h x 1 ins w (13 x 2.5 cm) decorative part 2 ins h (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s -1900s
MATERIALS: metal, French jet
This beautiful comb is an excellent example of the daintier hair accessories which were worn at the end of the Victorian period. Changes in the manner of dressing the hair led to a taste for smaller and more delicate ornaments than had previously been fashionable.
This pretty French jet hair comb represents a flower with leaves and is set upon a rotating hinge which permits the angle of the heading to be adjusted. These hairpins which take the form of a three dimensional and elaborately encrusted “star” or “flower” type design are among the most popular. We find them in French jet, diamante, Vauxhall glass, gilt ormolu, filigree, and cut steel. These delicate and pretty combs are typical of ornaments which were produced for popular wear at the turn of the 20th century.
The final picture is taken from a series of contemporary fashion photos which illustrate the fashionable hair dressing and the hair accessories of the period.
Because of its dark appearance it is possible that this comb was worn for mourning. This etiquette decreed that in deep mourning, the widow and close relative of the deceased must dress in plain dark garments. The only ornaments allowed to be worn at this time were those of jet, which is a natural material found in Whitby, a small town on the East coast of the United Kingdom. In order to extend the supply of jet when it became exhausted, various other materials were employed. One of these was French jet.
French jet has nothing to do with France and is, in fact, a form of black glass. This was produced into a whole range of jewellery and personal ornaments, some of which are illustrated in the collage photograph, along with the dress of a widow.
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Pretty late Victorian hinged hair comb as French Jet flower