A handsome Regency or late Georgian period tiara comb with garnet decoration
CONDITION: good vintage condition with acceptable wear for age
SIZE: 1½ ins h x 6 ins w (4 x 15 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1800s – 1820s
MATERIALS: metal, garnets
This is a lovely late Georgian or Regency period tiara comb in openwork filigree made from fire gilded brass. It is in excellent condition and has its original faceted garnets with no losses.
The ornament comprises two curved openwork galleries with a nband of faceted garnets separating them. Above and below are lef shaped openwork motifs, each of which is set with three pyrope garnets. The curved top of the heading formed a spiked silhouette. These elements of which the tiara are formed are graduated in size with those at the extremities being smaller.
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. Tiara mounts, also called frontlets, were often purchased as part of a set which may contain a number of such decorative elements in different materials.
The final picture is a compilation of some of the various designs which may be found in tiara combs of this period and is taken from contemporary portraits. A set with a comb mount and frontlets is shown, together with an illustration of how combs would have been worn.
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.
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 favourite 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 tiara hair comb with faceted garnets hair ornament