A classic back comb hair ornament late Victorian or Edwardian
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 3 ins h x 4½ ins w (7.5 x 11 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: celluloid, metal
This pretty hair accessory is fresh to the market, being part of an extensive private collection which I recently purchased.
It takes the form of a back comb in celluloid faux tortoiseshell with a decorative heading border in gold tone metal. This takes a slightly wavy form and is engraved with an attractive floral design. A back comb is a type of ornament which is specially designed to be worn at the rear of the head. Such ornaments are usually deeply curved to fit the back of the skull, which makes them unsuitable for wearing anywhere else. Typically they are broader than they are high, and have a top of heading finished off with some kind of decorative edge or border.
The final picture is taken from a collection of contemporary fashion magazine illustrations and shows the fashionable coiffure and the kinds of ornaments used to decorate it.
Combs such as there reached the apex of their popularity in the years around the turn of the 20th century. The hair was worn in a distinctive puffed out style which has become familiar from the drawings of Charles Dana Gibson. This is also known as a Pompadour style, and often incorporated the use of underlying pads and false hair. It was supported at the back of the head and sometimes at the sides as well by wide hair combs, which might be as plain or as fancy as the wearer desired. These combs also helped to support the huge hats of the late Victorian and Edwardian period.
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Late Victorian hair comb faux tortoiseshell hair accessory