A handsome Victorian mantilla style hair comb in pierced and plated steel
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 5¼ ins h x 4 ins w (14 x 10 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s - 1900
Here is a handsome mantilla style hair comb which is made in silver plated steel. The comb has a high openwork heading with a formalised engraved design of grapes and vine leaves.
This type of ornament is often known as Spanish or mantilla comb because it resembles a smaller version of the traditional large tortoiseshell ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. In practice any comb which has a high upstanding heading or top is often called a mantilla comb.
Combs like this were worn in a characteristic manner, being placed such a way that the tall heading stood up proud. This enabled them to be viewed from all angles and for the details to be seen effectively outlined against the light. The final illustration shows a selection of sitters wearing similar ornaments and is taken from a collection of contemporary carte de visite of the Victorian era
Such higher topped combs were produced in genuine tortoiseshell and precious metals for the higher end of the market and in horn, celluloid and other materials for the popular end. The tall mantilla style headings became popular in the 1870s due to the debut of Bizet's opera Carmen in 1875. The type continued to be fashionable but grew smaller and daintier as the 19th century drew to its close.
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