Jun 29, 2010

Old, Old Combs

In order of age:
First, a horn comb. These combs are an early American treasure. They date 1800-1830s, and were hand made, sawed out of pressed and clarified steer horn. They are often plain and sometimes stained dark to imitate tortoiseshell. The shape is always similar - a large comb with a wide band and many, many teeth. Occasionally, like this one, they were dyed with stains in a decorative pattern, usually a floral one. I have read these were made by itinerant comb makers as they worked from town to town. These are a rare find these days. And even rarer to find them with all the teeth. The teeth are just so long and thin, plus the small cuts that may be at the top of each tooth from the sawing. A small, but real piece of American history.
Although large, this comb actually is a tad smaller than most and has much finer decoration than the others I have seen.

Second, a smaller, but still weighty, hinged comb with horn teeth and a brass crescent overlaid with a heavy piece of mother-of-pearl held in place by three brass medallions. It is hinged to fall over a chignon at the back of the head, or to be used as a small tiara like front of head decor. I date this to the 1860's. The sensibility is decorative yet serious and a far cry from the later exuberance of colored celluloid and rhinestones.

For more information and photos: Past Perfect Vintage

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