Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hair Comb History Highlight #5: Tiffany & Co.


I think most people have heard of Tiffany & Co. When you have a color practically named after your stores packaging (Tiffany box blue of course) I think its safe to say everybody knows your name. I remember how so many girls I knew growing up had the sterling silver heart necklace charms and bracelets that were so very popular from Tiffany in the late 90's and early naughts. I for one am sure glad that trend is no longer in vogue! I don't think I will ever forget my first shopping experience at Tiffany, I went to buy a mothers day present! My first and so far only "fine" jewelry purchase was for my mom, and it was so exciting to go into Tiffany not to look but to actually buy! The lady who assisted me that day was ever so nice and I left the shop with a silver necklace in a little blue box and white satin ribbon!

Tiffany & Co. wasn't always a classic, it took them a while! Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young opened Tiffany (then called Tiffany, Young and Ellis) way back in 1837 as a stationary and "fancy goods" store. Whatever fancy goods are, the store shifted its main focus to jewelry in 1853. Some people do not realize that the famous Tiffany lamps are from a different but related company Tiffany Studios, which was opened in 1885 by Tiffany's son Louis Comfort Tiffany. Clearly the Tiffany's, both father and son, had a good mind for both business and luxury goods!

Being in business as long  Tiffany & Co. has meant the company produced jewelry in many different styles through the decades. Any jeweler as historic as Tiffany & Co. produced hair combs during their heyday, through the Edwardian era and into the 1920's. So lets admire some of the surviving Tiffany combs!

These look rather Art Deco! Diamonds and blonde tortoiseshell
A beautiful diamond tiara-like comb
Perhaps an older comb in tortoiseshell and yellow gold
More yellow gold! so beautiful!
A glorious silver example in a rather Etruscan revival style

Then there is this magnificent thing! Made by Tiffany the younger, I defer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (this combs home)

"This hair ornament is one of the most extraordinary pieces of Tiffany's surviving jewelry, incorporating a remarkably realistic rendering of two dragonflies resting on two dandelion seedballs. Tiffany designed the hair ornament for Louisine W. Havemeyer, who, with her husband Henry Osborne Havemeyer were among Tiffany's most enlightened and devoted patrons. The hair ornament was known only from archival photographs in the collection of the Tiffany & Company Archives until Louisine's great-granddaughter brought it to the Museum's attention. The piece epitomizes his earliest jewelry designs, which were based directly on modest forms in nature, such as field flowers and wild fruit, as well as his affinity for enameling and semiprecious stones with unusual colors. The dragonflies rest on dandelion seedballs, one of which is shown partially blown away, underscoring the fragility of nature. Highly skilled artisans conveyed the transparency of the insects' wings through delicate metalwork filigree. The temporal quality is revealed in the subject: dragonflies rest in one place for mere seconds before flitting away; dandelions disperse into thousands of airborne seeds with the gentlest of breezes."


 Wow! That is quite the case isn't it? and quite the comb too! It reminds me more of Lalique...who perhaps we will talk about next time for Hair Comb History Highlights #6!





4 comments:

  1. I have the comb in the 4th image (with 2 prongs, not 3. It's still in the box. Do you have any idea of what the value might be?

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    1. That exact comb (the gold comb in the box with three prongs?) sold for $7,000 US dollars in August 2013. If you have an authentic antique Tiffany comb, first of all I am super jealous, and secondly your should probably get it appraised by a professional jeweler or antique dealer so that you can insure it if you plan on keeping it. What a treasure! Here is a link to the ebay action http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANTIQUE-TIFFANY-CO-22-24K-GOLD-HAIR-ORNAMENT-COMB-ORIGINAL-BOX-GORGEOUS-/380473997781?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item58960479d5 so that you can check it out

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  2. Thank you so much. Love that you posted this tight when I needed it. I'm going to get it appraised ASAP!

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  3. thank you for this lovely history and pictures, i am on a search to see all Tiffany' s hair art, combs, clips, picks, anything!

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