This sale is for a fine Victorian mantilla style hair comb made in French ivory.
CONDITION: good vintage condition.
SIZE: 4½ ins h x 4½ ins w (11 x 11 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1880s to 1900s
Combs like these are often called Spanish combs after the beautiful ornaments worn by Spanish ladies with their native dress. Such ornaments 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.
This fine and large example is made from a material called French Ivory which is a synthetic designed to simulate genuine elephant tusk. The comb has a tall upstanding heading with a panel of open scrollwork placed along the top edge,
This manner of wearing this type of decorative comb is shown in the accompanying photograph in picture 5. This is taken from a contemporary Victorian photograph which shows a sitter proudly wearing a similar very large hair comb with upstanding heading surmounted by fancy decoration. It is thrust into the high chignon so as to be visible from all angles.
Perhaps the earliest reference to the term French ivory was the importation into the USA in 1913 of ivory coloured cellulose nitrate articles manufactured by a company called the French Ivory Products Ltd, Toronto, Canada. Other American companies (e.g. J.B. Ash Co., Rockford, Illinois) seem to have adopted this trademark, and it is now taken as a generic term for ivory coloured celluloid.
Besides the plain cream coloured celluloid there is a grained or striped version, often called zebra. The term *French* may have been deliberately adopted to add a certain cachet to enhance the image of an otherwise unremarkable material in a similar way to that employed for French jet (black glass in imitation of genuine Whitby jet).
FURTHER DOWNLOADABLE INFORMATION ON VINTAGE HAIR COMBS, HAIRDRESSING AND COSTUME CAN BE FOUND IN MY ARCHIVE HERE:-
PLEASE NOTE: This link is “Etsy legal” and leads only to an archive with no merchandise for sale.
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