Classic Victorian French jet mourning tiara style hair comb
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 4½ ins h x 5 ins w (11 x 13 cm) decorative part 1¼ ins h (4 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1850s – 1860s
MATERIALS: horn, French jet
This hair comb was purchased from an extensive private collection of museum quality hair accessories and jewellery and is fresh to the market.
Here is an elaborate tiara style mourning comb dating from the mid Victorian period. Such combs are often called tiara combs because the hinged mount gave them a considerable degree of flexibility. They could therefore be worn either in the back of the dressing, below or within the chignon, or tiara style above the forehead. In this latter position the tines would be concealed beneath the hair, so that the ornamental heading functioned as a mini tiara. The decorative metal heading is wide and curved and gives the effect of a formal tiara when worn on top of the head.
This example has an elaborately carved heading piece of black dyed horn which is further embellished with faceted balls of French jet. Some of the balls are carved to represent berries. These “balls” type combs were one of the most popular designs found in the mid Victorian period and are found with spheres of all materials.
The final picture is taken from a series of contemporary photos which illustrate the mourning hair ornaments and fashion 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.
FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING ON THIS ITEM, Ask me about my convenient Layaway plan on selected items
Victorian mourning hair comb elaborate French jet headpiece