I recently posted up three antique hair combs at pastperfectvintage.com. These are the last of my 75+ hair comb collection I have been selling for several years now. That isn't to say there won't be more combs added to the site. It just means any added after this will be bought for resale. I started collecting Victorian and Edwardian celluloid hair combs some 34 years ago. Then I branched out into tortoise shell and other materials such as gutta percha, hard rubber and a few brass and plated metals. There were even a few Asian pieces- a kingfisher feather hair pin with trembler stands out. After 4-5 years of collecting, the whole lot was stolen in a house break-in. I never did see any of those combs show up in local antique stores, and I looked for years. Fortunately, insurance covered the loss, so I started again. These can be fragile, and celluloid is prone to disintegration if not stored properly. I only lost 2 along the way in 34 years. Real tortoiseshell is much sturdier of course.
Just click on the photos to see larger photos with details.
This first one is quite early - 1810s - 1820s, and a classic American primitive piece.These combs were hand carved and sawn out of clarified cow horn in imitation of blonde tortoiseshell. The flowers and leaves were dyed as were the teeth in imitation of the streaks of real tortoiseshell. The long thin teeth are notoriously fragile.
This one is one of my favorites. I eyed it for some time in a local antique mall - now long gone. A friend bought it and sent it on to me. I believe it's late 1830s, and it's hand carved tortoiseshell. It is quite large - a very exuberant size. You can see the classical influence as well as the more polished design esthetic. It's also quite 3 dimensional.
This last mantilla style comb is much later. It's Edwardian era and this is celluloid in a faux tortoiseshell coloration. It's molded, not carved.If you look at the detail photos you can see quite a difference.
All available now at Past Perfect Vintage