Monthly Archives: September 2011

Matilde Poulat: Taxco Artist, Mexican Silver Comb

Born in Mexico City and better known as Matl, Maestra Matilde Poulat started making jewelry in 1934. She became one of the most famous artists of the Mexican Silver Renaissance. Detailing and texture gave her art a delicacy and intricacy few achieved during the the Taxco era. She decorated her pieces with coral and turquoise jewels. This Poulat hair comb also has an amethyst cabechon, the fertility sign of two birds facing each other, a tortoiseshell comb, and I made a deal with the seller at a reduced price to buy it over time, within my means. This is my pick to add to my collection.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Heritage Fine Silver & Vertu Auction #5016

William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance: Maestros de Plata

Creative Museum: Folk and Personal Combs

By The Creative Museum:

Nous ouvrons toujours des yeux émerveillés devant des peignes qui méritent le titre d’œuvre d’art. Nous admirons la beauté et la richesse des matériaux, la perfection des formes, le savoir-faire des orfèvres qui créent ces véritables bijoux.

Mais c’est un autre sentiment tout particulier qui nous saisit devant les témoignages d’art populaire.
Ils nous parlent des traditions d’une région et nous font saisir l’âme des gens.

Un peigne confectionné par une personne individuelle nous touche par sa charge sentimentale. On est ému par ses maladresses de formes et de façon. On cherche à déchiffrer le sens de ce qui est représenté. C’est une pièce destinée au départ à une personne précise. Mais elle a pu traverser les générations et elle est alors porteuse de toute une histoire. Si nous laissons notre imagination vagabonder, on peut en voir le film.

Ce peigne peut être naïf, les matériaux peuvent être de vil prix. Et pourtant il devient un objet de valeur par le fait qu’il est unique.


For more scholarly research, please examine

American Folk Art by William C. Ketchum Primitive and Folk Jewelry by Michael Gerlach
French Folk Art by Jean Cuisenier

Paul-Gabriel Liénard and Louis Aucoc

Paul-Gabriel Liénard was a Parisian Art Nouveau jeweler, who reached the top of his craft when he registered his own mark in 1905. As with Louis Aucoc, Liénard was well known for using pearl sprays. I have not found any documentation connecting Aucoc and Liénard except for these three combs. They were made from translucent horn and seed pearls, so light would show through, and the jeweled accents would keep them lightweight. In addition to philosophical influences, there was a practical purpose to these decisions. The combs would be easy to wear.

Liénard’s example, with his maker’s mark, sold at Christies for $21,600 in 2006.

Aucoc’s comb is on sale at The Tadema Gallery for around $8000.

Both combs are superb expressions of the natural world’s asymmetrical shapes.

Christie’s estimated the value of this Aucoc hair pin at £3000 to £4000 in 2009.

To prove how scholarship creates value, I recorded this sale on E-bay in 2007. Comments are welcome, but I believe these hair pins were made by Aucoc. They were damaged, as all the seed pearls were not present. However, the only identification was “French work, 1900.” The dealer was, shall we say, homework-deficient? I remember this auction well, and when I saw the price, well, it was a lot like the recent auction we have all been talking about.

And just for jaw-dropping fun, I’ll revisit this Liénard tiara, made of gold, horn, pearls, and diamonds, which sold for $60,000 at Christie’s in 2009.


For more scholarly research, please examine

The Comb: Its History and Development by Jen Cruse, page 35, which I’m proud to say is listed in the Tadema Gallery’s provenance for the Louis Aucoc comb.

Imperishable Beauty by Yvonne J. Markowitz

That Ebay Auction: It was an Amethyst Empire Comb

The stones were amethysts. Shall we compare the comb in this Empire parure on a historical jewelry site to the one that went for $458 in that E-bay auction?

The comb correctly identified.

The amethyst Empire comb that went for $458 on Ebay.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Tiara by Diana Scarisbrick

Napoleon’s Letters to Josephine, 1796-1812

Catalogue Des Bijoux Du Musee Napoleon III (1862)

Creative Museum: Exhibition at the Musée d’Angoulême

Online community is still miraculous. In addition to publishing superb books, our devotion to the beauty and cultural revelation of combs is being recognized by museums.

Thirty combs from the Creative Museum join headdresses from the private collection of Antoine de Galbert for a “world tour” exhibition at the Musée d’Angoulême. En Tête à Tête: Parures de tête à travers le monde (English translation: From Head to Head: Headpieces from Around the World) will show from October 1 to December 31, 2011.

Noticing our online achievements, curators are realizing that hair combs “mark the beat of life… are privileged witnesses to cultural identites… and are immersed in a magical vision.” We did it. We’re walking in the front door. Today is a glorious day. Hi Birds. :-)


For more scholarly research, please examine

Prehistoire de la Charente: Les temps ante-historiques en Angoumois a travers les collections du Musee d’Angouleme (French Edition)

Ainsi soit-il : Collection Antoine de Galbert – Extraits

The Ebay Auction Everyone Was Talking About

Remember that two Empire diadems with almost all the seed pearls missing sold at Sotheby’s 3 years ago for $3000 a piece. Now, incredulously, a dealer from Belgium got the hair comb collection of a lifetime, and sold it on E-Bay for basically nothing. I couldn’t BELIEVE my eyes.

This French Empire seed pearl comb IN EXCELLENT CONDITION sold for *drum roll* $597.77. He started the bidding at $145. Do you think Sotheby’s could have sold it for $5000? I do.

This one sold for $439.

I have been obsessed with this auction all week, and I can finally talk about it! Oh my God, the bargains people got. Congratulations to all the winners.

There were some absolute masterpieces in this collection. Here is a selection with the final selling prices. I don’t know who the collector was, but this was a life’s work of love, devotion, and scholarship. A book could have been published about this collection. The Creative Museum family saw a few of their grandmother’s combs and devoted their lives to turning her interest into a monument. I feel this woman’s heirs, if she had any, saw her life’s love and threw it away.

Sterling silver comb. The bird on top of leaves has a ruby, and the edges are decorated with moonstones: $910.

The coral tiara part of an Empire comb: $760

An 18K gold and diamond top to a blonde tortoiseshell hair pin, c. 1890: $680

A magnificently ornate coral tiara from an Empire comb: $549

Amethyst Empire comb in almost perfect condition: $458

18th-Century ivory comb from Ceylon: $400

French art nouveau tinted horn comb, autumn leaves, c. 1905: $393 I am not sure if any of them were signed, but the art nouveau pieces reminded me of Elizabeth Bonte.

Magnificent French seed-pearl tiara hinged onto a horn comb: $362.88

Three brass thistles decorate a horn comb, c. 1905: $150

Two tinted horn combs, which might be Elizabeth Bonte. One with red flowers ($275), the other with two dragonflies facing each other ($190.50). The dragonflies’ legs are elongated to make the tines of the comb. This is the same idea Lalique used in his famous Two Swallows with a Stalk of Oats.

There was also a beautiful art nouveau comb with chrysanthemums, a favorite flower of the Japanese ($225.49).

This comb was a Victorian tortoiseshell back comb with paste stones, but the blue and green colors were beautiful ($273).

There was also a greek key pattern hand piqued into a tiara hinged onto a tortoiseshell comb, c. 1870 ($148):

Do you think this hair pin on almost transparent blonde tortoiseshell was made of real diamonds? ($166.38)

This ivory hair pin with a woman figure on it was also beautiful ($161), as was this ivory snake comb ($145).

There were two Victorian blonde tortoiseshell combs, which sold for $71 and $46, respectively.

A gorgeous Bonaz rounded out the auction ($170.39)

Did Sotheby’s Make A Mistake?

Here is an openwork ivory comb they identified as being from the Nasrid dynasty of 15th-Century Spain. Its handle of openwork designs resides in the center and supports a row of thicker teeth on the top and finer ones on the bottom. The sides have crescent designs. The auction house estimated its value between the $20,000 to $30,000 range. Sotheby’s sale date: October 5, 2011.

However, from the research of our scholar Kajetan Fiedorowicz, the comb is Spanish, but not from the 15th Century. At best it is from the mid-18th Century, which would make the price estimate incorrect. $1000 would be a better estimate.

Why would a comb from the Nasrid dynasty of 15th Century Spain be so valuable? Because it was a time when Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived and thrived in peace.

The Moors conquered Spain when Almohad Caliphate was defeated in 1212 at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. Muslim rulers founded the Nasrid dynasty in Granada in 1232. Twenty-three emirs ruled until 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered to Queen Isabella of Castille and León and Ferdinand of Aragon. That same year Tomás de Torquemada was given the title of First Inquisitor General and convinced Ferdinand to expel the Jews.


For more scholarly research, please examine

The Comb, by Jen Cruse — page 54

Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500

Obsessionistas: The Story of the Creative Museum

The Creative Museum was featured in the British online magazine, Obsessionistas, this month.

How did this 30-year, 2000-comb collection start? With the treasures of a grandmother.

The wife of a French army captain, Leona Petit collected a small number of combs from around the world. After she died, her grandchildren noticed the combs in her wardrobe. Fascinated, they realized these small objects symbolized the history and culture of those who made them. The brother, sister, and her husband decided to devote their lives to continuing their grandmother’s legacy.

Today, it has become a prestigious online museum, which is making its entrance into real museum exhibitions. I am sure Mme. Petit is looking down from heaven with joy. Here are some of my favorite pieces. Other parts of the collection are in the article.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Chinese and Japanese Hair Ornaments by The Creative Museum