Category Archives: English Hair Comb

Ella Naper Lily-Pad Combs

Ella married painter Charles W.S. Naper, who became well-known for his English countryside landscapes. They lived and worked in Lamorna, a fishing village in West Cornwall. Ella made this pair of lily-pad combs out of green-tinted horn, and created the dewdrops from moonstones, c. 1906. And here is her portrait, painted by her husband. कंघी…Continue Reading

Jen Cruse: The Fleur-de-Lys Motif

By Jen Cruse: The fleur-de-lys (often spelt “lis”) motif is frequently encountered on ornamental haircombs, either as part of the overall decorative heading or as an applied embellishment. It is said to represent three central petals of the lily, a flowering plant of the genus iris. The initial conclusion may be that combs depicting this…Continue Reading

Jen Cruse: Tortoiseshell versus Horn

For much of the nineteenth century, tortoiseshell was a luxury material that commanded high prices, whereas horn was a readily available material and inexpensive by comparison. By around 1830, the horn craftsmen found a method of clarifying and staining horn in imitation of tortoiseshell and, over succeeding decades, made combs, hairpins and other small items…Continue Reading

Jen Cruse: Large Tortoiseshell High Backcomb

This beautifully carved tortoiseshell comb is one of only three known to me. Two are in my collection and the third is in the collection of the Museum of London. Each comb varies slightly in format and also condition, and the carving techniques demonstrate the exceptional skill of the combmaker. The decorative features of each…Continue Reading

Blonde Tortoiseshell Griffin

The griffin, or eagle-lion, is generally portrayed with wings, a beak, eagle claws and feathered, and pointy ears. Some traditions say that only female griffins have wings. Griffins found themselves on the cross of St. George, Greek mythology, Persian poetry, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy. I saw this comb on Ruby Lane. The…Continue Reading