September 1, 2014

Hair Comb History Highlight #7: Silver Combs

Silver, U.K. 1850
Were going to take a break from talking about specific designers here on Hair Comb History Highlights and today focus on a particular material, in this case silver. Silver, both sterling and lesser blends, has been used for making hair combs for centuries. After all, celluloid is a rather modern material whereas metals go way back!

I have gathered a selection of silver combs for us to admire today, all from different periods but mostly from America or Europe. For those interested, I would like to note that many other cultures have produced hair combs over the centuries. If you are interested in ethnographic combs pinterest is a great place to start checking out what the rest of the world has to offer.

Silver, Diamond and Tortoiseshell comb, French, 1900
Mistletoe and Holly, what a pretty comb for the holiday season!

Chased Silver, USA, 1850
Three sterling silver combs, two with amber celluloid prongs, c. 1900
These combs are imitating the silver caped blonde tortoiseshell combs from the same period. Using celluloid prongs instead of tortoiseshell would certainly cut down the costs. 

Silver and french paste combs, 1860-1880
The pastes on these combs are quite large and sparkling! They would be so pretty in a huge Victorian hairstyle!
Sterling Silver, 1882
Silver, England, 1907
Alexander Calder (he of the famous mobiles), 1940
Famous modernist Alexander Calder actually made many combs and quite a lot of jewelry in his studio. Always one offs, I can't imagine how much they are worth today!

Silver filigree, Victorian
Coin silver (literally melted coins), c. 1800-1820
I'm intrigued by the idea of using coin silver for jewelry, I suppose if materials are scarce any silver will do!

Silver, moonstones, ruby, 1870
There are many more examples of silver combs out there, hundreds if not thousands! Unlike the more fragile materials combs can be made out of, silver and other metals have a lot more staying power. I don't yet have a silver comb in my personal comb collection but I hope to someday! Being a precious metal, sliver combs still command a good price even today. They pop up on auction sites and etsy now and again and I dream of the day I get to press buy now! 


  1. Gorgeous, as always! I could do with a mistletoe and holly hair comb - there just aren't enough elegant Christmas accessories in my wardrobe :)

    1. Thank you, and I quite agree! Though I always end up wishing I had more holiday parties each season to get dressed up for!

  2. These are breathtakingly beautiful! Your knowledge of hair combs is so vast and inspiring, dear gal. I swear, I cannot see one now without thinking fondly of you.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you dearest Jessica! I am certainly obsessed with combs, I can't seem to help it! I have had to stop myself from buying anymore, I am waiting for my hair to grow out longer so I can wear them more often!

  3. How do you wear them? I've never really understood that. Do you just kinda stick them in the top of the hairstyle? The ones that have the 90-degree bend make sense to me, but the straight ones have never done so.

    1. Funny enough, it's the 90 degree ones I can't work out how to wear! The straight ones are easy, one does indeed just stick them into the finished hairstyle. You can see how I wear mine in some of my outfit posts here and here You can see Victorian ladies wearing them in old photos sometimes too, and occasionally on photos of flappers in the 20's. I always love when I spot a comb on one of the ladies on Downton Abbey too!


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