10 Interesting facts about hair combs

Examples of primitive combs have been found among the discoveries of archeological digs in all corners of the world, with the earliest reportedly dating back 5,000 years.

A Sea Holly hair comb, circa 1900, made of horn, silver, gold, glass, and signed by Rene Lalique, measuring 3 3/4 inches wide by 5 1/4 inches long, sold for $170,000 through Treadway Toomey Auctions in 2015.

Functional fashion accessories

René Lalique (1860-1945) Sea Holly hair comb 3 3/4 inches wide by 5 1/4 inches long, sold for $170,000 through Treadway Toomey Auctions. Courtesy of Treadway Toomey Auctions, Oak Park, Illinois.

René Lalique (1860-1945) Sea Holly hair comb 3 3/4 inches wide by 5 1/4 inches long, sold for $170,000 through Treadway Toomey Auctions. Courtesy of Treadway Toomey Auctions, Oak Park, Illinois.

Antique and vintage hair combs are a prime example of top choice functional and fashionable accessories. Examples of decorative hair combs have reportedly been identified among artifacts dating back to the Stone Age.

Within a cache of more than 9,300 gold decorative items found in 2016 in the ancient tomb of a Scythian tribal leader, located in the Russian Republic of Tuva, was a gold hair comb weighing 10 ounces.

Sometimes it’s not just about the design or presence of an object that draws attention, it’s the provenance of a piece. In November 2017, a gold-plated hair comb, featuring fluted shell-like accents, rose to $3,000 at a Julien’s Auctions sale. The comb was reportedly worn by 1940s actress Ann Blyth during her performance in the film “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.” The piece measures 5 1/2 inches long.

Over the centuries, various materials have served in the construction of decorative combs. This includes, but is not limited to, wood, ivory, bone, alabaster, tortoise shell, onyx, and celluloid.

A couple living in Alaska since the 1950s turned their home and collection of more than 3,000 antique and vintage combs into a tourist destination: The Miller Comb Museum.

Attractive hair combs bring attractive prices

Good things come in pairs, just like the tortoise shell hair combs shown, which feature pearls, rose-cut diamonds with keen details and blue enamel. The Edwardian period pair measure 4 1/4 by 1 1/2 inches each and weigh 23.7 grams. As a single lot, it sold for $1,300 through Fortuna Auctions in December 2017.

French gold and steel cameo hair comb, circa 1830, featuring carved cameos, sold for $572. Courtesy of Dreweatts Bristol Auction Rooms, Bristol, UK.

French gold and steel cameo hair comb, circa 1830, featuring carved cameos, sold for $572. Courtesy of Dreweatts Bristol Auction Rooms, Bristol, UK.

As was often the case with period jewelry, even decorative combs provided a platform of sorts for sentimental personalization. For example, a 19th-century French hair comb, which sold for $572, included a line of attractive cameos. Cameo profiles of a man, a younger man, a woman, and several children set in gold mounts atop the comb.

10 In March 2018, a ladies 18kt gold hair comb,  boasting filigree gold vines set with red coral beads above spiraled teeth, measuring approximately 3 1/4 inches in length by 3 inches in width, sold for $900. 

Compiled by Antoinette Rahn. Sources: LiveAuctioneers.com; mongolschinaandthesilkroad.blogspot.com; www.bustle.com; https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/miller-comb-museum

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