Category Archives: French Hair Comb

Lucien Gaillard Maple Seed Hair Comb

There is an auction coming up of a Lucien Gaillard hair comb at invaluable.com. The link. Bidding starts at €500, with an estimate of €500 – €600. Perhaps the valuation comes because of its condition. Diagonal striations show in the horn above the tines from the right to the middle of the comb. The inside of the tines have grime and many horizontal marks from wear. The maple-seed-pod decoration is patinated bronze, not silver. I consulted a friend, who said, “Perhaps the horn wasn’t perfectly clarified and the photos are picking up natural color variations. Or, it could be dried out in some areas, and the photos are magnifying tiny splits.”

According to the box, it was first sold by Polak Ainé, or Emmanuel Polak. Emmanuel’s parents Abraham Polak and Gertrude Brook founded Polak-Brook Jewelers in Ostende, a municipality in West Flanders, Belgium. When Abraham died in 1895, his eldest son Emmanuel took over the business, renamed it Polak Ainé, and had stores on 24 Rue Lafayette, Paris; Av Massena 16, Nice; and 30 Rampe de Flandre, Ostende; which explains the box label: “Polak Ainé Joaillier Paris Nice Ostende.”

If the box is correct, I would date this comb to 1901 because that year, Gompers & Polak Ainé Jewellers was formed and opened on 28 Place Vendome, Paris. My guess is that if this comb was made after 1901, the box would have been marked differently.

There is a similar Gaillard hairpin in the Rijksmuseum. The horn is flawless and the maple-seed pods are silver. It is dated c. 1902-1906. This might indicate that Gaillard changed materials for his decoration after the comb currently on auction was made. The museum description: “Hair comb made of horn and silver in Art Nouveau style. Decorated with silver gilt maple seeds.”

At any rate, the comb at invaluable.com is real. If you don’t mind the flaws, and people don’t get insane and bid it up beyond its value, you can be safe in knowing you’re buying a real Gaillard.

A René Lalique Hair Comb: The Visible and the Invisible

In 1900, enchanted observers marveled at how light played with color, as it reflected off leaves or the wings of a dragonfly. However, unlike moths, dragonflies don’t navigate by the light of the moon. Instead, they use sunlight’s energy on their wings to fly. Dragonflies swarm with predatory precision, catching mosquitos with their feet. Indeed,…Continue Reading

The Hair Comb Market

There are so many beautiful things for sale, each with their own story, that to condense a post into one subject is difficult. So I have a buffet of things today. Just click the picture or link to see more details about each item. In the Sotheby’s Unsold category: On 6 December 2002, this Henri…Continue Reading

Lalique Hair Combs and Tiaras

Victorian diamond brooches came with different settings, so they could be worn separately or together as a tiara. Art Nouveau brooches could also serve multiple purposes. Indeed, some were designed as a tiara and ended up as a brooch. Such is the case with this bee-and-flower ornament designed by Rene Lalique in 1905/6. A pencil-and-ink…Continue Reading

Auguste Bonaz at the Creative Museum

The Creative Museum just acquired another masterpiece by Auguste Bonaz. Made c. 1920 in Oyonnax, five medallions of painted leaves and rhinestones rest in the middle of a curved frame. The medallions are held in place by vertical lines. I thought this might be a good opportunity to peruse some of the Creative Museum’s other…Continue Reading

Alexandre de Paris Spring Collection, 2014

Spring is full of flowers, butterflies, Japanese fans, and a bird of paradise at Alexandre de Paris. The pieces mix layers of clear acetate with solid forms in different colors, decorated with rhinestones. Online, you see mostly black. In the stores, the limited-edition pieces are available in beige and pink. The most complex and magnificent…Continue Reading

The Frances Wright Collection

Many women practice their art secretly. Emily Dickinson had fewer than 12 poems published in her lifetime until her sister Lavinia discovered 1800 of them in a locked chest after she died. Jane Austen was first published anonymously. Collecting is also an art. To do it well, you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of the…Continue Reading

Auctions at Drouot: Art Nouveau Locusts — SOLD, for 141,000 euros

They jumped into history with no name. The auction curators at Drouot had no idea who made these realistic plique-a-jour enamel locusts with diamond lines, set in gold, so they estimated their value at 6500 euros. In the description, Drouot wondered if the locusts were destined to adorn a hairstyle or ornament a corsage. Even…Continue Reading