Monthly Archives: January 2011

Diamond and Aquamarine Tiara

Topped by a pear-shaped aquamarine, this tiara was owned by Princess Olga Valerianovna Paley. She was born Olga Karnovitsch on Dec. 2, 1865, married Erich Gerhard von Pistohlkors in 1884, had an affair with Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, married him without the Tsar’s approval, but then got his blessing and became a Princess. After her husband and son were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1920, she fled to Finland with her two daughters. She died in Paris on November 2, 1929. Being a woman, no matter what happened to her, she kept the tiara. It is signed Cartier Paris, Londres, New York, was made c. 1912, and sold for $76,000 at Sotheby’s on May 12, 2009.

The Bargain

Amidst the cacophony of egos, E-bay is a war game. To sell collectibles, you either have to organize in real life to limit supply, as in the paperweight market; throw a piece of junk on ebay with the goal of attracting a private buyer, as in the Tiffany Studios market; but sometimes the collector wins the war because the seller is blindingly stupid.

PCMalady listed this comb as plastic. It wasn’t plastic. It was a Chinese ivory comb made for export to the Victorian market, c. 1890.

I couldn’t believe it. For four days I had a kill snipe bid on this. I knew the people who noticed it would behave like stealth tigers looking to take advantage of the seller’s ignorance. I also knew no one who noticed would bid to draw attention to the comb, thereby jacking up the price. I deleted my snipe bid because I thought “What are you doing? You can’t buy combs now.” I watched.

A comb I’d value at around $300 because there was a slight discoloration to the ivory in the back, invisible to the front, went for $39.99.

Even if the seller did not know the detailed floral decoration was one of the most popular patterns in Chinese ivory export combs, she should have seen the individuality of the discoloration on the back and known the comb was not plastic.

There were only two bidders, feedback scores of 2078 and 3309, respectively. That tells you a lot about their knowledge. The comb was won by the Creative Museum. I am happy about this. It was a brilliant buy.

At the moment, sellers on Ruby Lane are trying to sell their combs for retail prices on E-bay. The listings will not succeed because the main product of E-bay is the war game of egos.

Coming soon: The dazzle of the U.S.

The Creative Museum is happy to present its new exhibition on American celluloid rhinestones combs.

1st  February / 30th August 2011

To be seen on

Don’t miss!

In the U.S. at the beginning of the twentieth century, high society parties were particularly dazzling affairs. Classy women used to enhance their hairstyles with brightly-coloured combs set with sparkling rhinestones.

Dragons, Griffons et Autres Bêtes Fantastiques

Tout le monde a rencontré, soit dans des films, des romans, des mangas ou des jeux vidéos ces créatures fantastiques qui combinent les attributs de plusieurs animaux comme le centaure, le sphinx ou la chimère… La mythologie antique est riche de ces figures imaginaires, et on en trouve dans toutes les cultures du monde.

C’est le dragon qui est la créature la plus représentée. Il se décline sous de nombreuses variations et peut même avoir des ailes comme le griffon.

Outre son pouvoir symbolique, ses qualités décoratives sont indéniables et les ornements de la coiffure en offrent des exemples souvent remarquables. vous en présente ici une petite sélection.

Commençons par la Chine où le dragon incarne le pouvoir et la force. Il était autrefois l’emblème de l’empereur.

Peut-être préférerez-vous un zilant russe, autre bête fantastique dérivée du dragon ?

Ou encore deux dragons-serpents s’enroulant autour d’une guirlande de roses sur un peigne français de style Empire…

Deux étonnants dragons-chiens de la mythologie indonésienne de Bornéo.

Enfin deux griffons sur un peigne de toilette en écaille de tortue.


Please welcome the Creative Museum

I am honored to announce that the founders of The Creative Museum have joined me to become authors on this blog.

The museum’s extraordinary collection includes magnificent works from Africa, North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the South Sea Islands, and also spans centuries. Just as it took a world-class collector’s eye to gather such combs, it took the same eye to photograph them so carefully. The Creative Museum has written a history of the world through comb making.

As I get older, I realize that the convictions I had when my energy was boundless were not the lone leaves on the tree at the end of the world. I was not alone. My conviction that hair combs were profound works of art was shared.

And now, our audience of art lovers and comb collectors can enjoy other points of view. The most wonderful addition is that Creative Museum posts will be written in French! I will translate them into English in the comments section.

Bonne chance, mes amis!

Peine Del Viento (Wind Comb)

Piene Del Viento II (1959) by Eduardo Chillada is being auctioned at Sothebys in London on Feb. 11, 2011, for an estimated price of $1,269,439. It will go higher.

Using steel, Chillada chose a comb as a metaphor to bring wind to life. He saw the wind as an invisible hand that combed the sea and the woods as well as the hair of men and women. This early sculpture is a hand opening its fingers to let the wind of the open seas pass through them.

Eduardo Txillida Juantegi (in Basque) was a sculptor who gave life to space and emptiness.

In a dialogue with his friend Martin Heidegger, they both understood space as a material medium, and the body as already beyond itself.

Chillada wrote, “I believe in perception, which is riskier and more progressive than experience. Perception is the present with a foot firmly planted in the future. Experience is the present, with your foot planted in the past.”

The most famous Peine Del Viento, number XV, is a set of three massive, haunting abstract steel forms, which emerge out of the rocks of the Bahía de la Concha (Shell Bay) al final de la Playa de Ondarreta (at the end of Ondarreta Beach) en San Sebastián, País Vasco. (in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastián, Basque Country.)

Edo Water God

18th-Century Edo comb. One idea: A dragon in the clouds. In Japanese mythology, dragons were water gods in charge of rainfall, lakes, rivers, and oceans. The serpentine dragon on this comb was typical — large and wingless, with clawed feet. The artist worked with the tortoiseshell’s natural color gradations, painting the dragon in the exact place where his tongue would be the deepest red.