Category Archives: Art Nouveau

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 Vever gold, enamel, and horn hair comb was estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, but did not sell.

vever

On 13 June 2000, this French gold, enamel, and diamond Eugenie comb, c. 1870, was estimated between 6,000 to 8,000 GBP, but also did not sell.

eugeniecomb

Sotheby’s Upcoming Auction:

Up for auction on 14 November 2014 is this brass Alexander Calder hair pin, c. 1940 (Calder Foundation Archive number: A16974). Estimate $50,000 – $70,000. To me, this comb looks like a female body wired into a frame. The estimate is consistent with the Calder market, and I will be interested to know what it fetches.

calder1

Will it appreciate in value, as did Calder’s silver “Figa” hair comb?

“Figa” in Slavic and Turkish cultures is a hand gesture made to represent male or female sexual organs. The first and second fingers wrap the thumb. It could be used in response to a money request or a plea for physical labor. In Ancient Rome, the gesture was used to ward off evil spirits.

Calder gifted it to artist Frances J. Whitney, c. 1948 (Calder Foundation Archive number: A22629). I could just see her wearing it with a geometrically cut black dress to a charity ball, with no one else knowing what it meant but her. :-)

On 15 November 2006, it was purchased from the Whitney estate for $57,000. On 14 November 2013, that buyer sold it for 137,000.

alexandercaldercomb

At Live Auctioneers, another comb caught my attention. It is Russian, c. 1908-1917, silver, and made by Fabergé work master Anders Michelson (marked AM). The comb has eight tortoiseshell prongs and a beautiful hinge that fits over the entire top. Michelson used niello, a black mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulphides, to inlay the dogs and floral pattern on the tiara. The auction starts on 13 November 2014, and the opening bid is €300.

dogs

Michael Backman Gallery

Michael Backman Ltd. is selling a pair of gold and gilded silver-filigree dragon hair pins from China’s Qianlong Period (1735-1796). They have dragon heads, each of which have a turquoise cabochon. Openwork hair ornaments were known as “tongzan” and were worn from the Ming Dynasty onwards.

chinesedragonhairpins

Also on sale is this comb from the Solomon Islands. It is a faa, or man’s woven comb from the Kwaio People, Malaita, Solomon Islands. Woven from yellow-orchid and coconut-palm-frond fibres, the comb was dyed with the geru root. Its teeth are made of fern wood.

solomonislands

The last lot I am going to feature from Michael Backman is this jaw-dropping collection of 38 Indonesian gold ornaments, c. 800 AD. It is a largest set of gold regalia ever collected for a statue in Central Java, Indonesia. The script on the chest cord translates as “‘The weight of the pailut with the diadem: 2 suvarṇa, 1 māṣa, 2 kupaṅ’”

Indon_Gold-750x475

Some Lovely Things on E-Bay

Never dismiss E-Bay. A Māori Paikea comb with an ivory patina to-die-for was listed by God-Save-Whom for $9.95 with no reserve. The description was “Possibly African.”

There is a There are 6 bids on it, including 2 experienced bidders. It’s real tortoiseshell. As of this printing, there are 3 days and 11 hours to go on this auction.

There is also The seller thinks it’s French. It could be French or Edwardian English because jewelers in both countries made these types of pins. The auction has 4 days to go.

One of our authors, Miriam Slater, is selling this It is rare, it is real, and I’d get my hands on it if I could.

Choosing one amongst many beautiful things is so difficult. Mustn’t we just have them all.

कंघी

To have fun researching more items like these, please consult our Resource Library and these books:


Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago

Calder Jewelry

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

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

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

Lluís Masriera and Modernisme in Catalonia

Art Nouveau’s main ingredients were the Symbolists, who believed that art should reflect the truth indirectly as if in a dream; the flat perspective and strong colors of Japanese wood block prints; and Japanese organic forms and representations of nature. Out came the curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau, which lasted only 20 years (1890-1910). In…Continue Reading

Lalique Tiaras: From God to a Rooster’s Breakfast

The setting of gems is profound meditation. How can a tiara or crown give its wearer the verisimilitude of God on Earth? Rene Lalique couldn’t care less. He transformed the appearance of jewelry with new themes. Combining French Symbolist philosophy with ideas from Japanese art, he incorporated gem setting into raptors’ claws in this comb,…Continue Reading

Lalique’s Berenice Tiara

Although a revelation to some, Lalique designed tiaras for actresses other than Sarah Bernhardt. One of his most eloquent pieces was made for Julia Bartet, who starred in Jean Racine’s Bérénice at the Comédie-Française in 1893. The perfect material for theatre props, Lalique used an aluminum frame, which was shaped into lotus flowers and openwork…Continue Reading

Mellerio dits Meller

Mellerio dits Meller is the oldest family-owned jewelry company in Europe, spanning 14 generations. In 1515, the first Mr. Mellerio left Italy for Paris because he heard there was opportunity there. His family started the company in 1613. As Jean-Baptiste Mellerio was vending his wares in front of the Château de Versailles, he attracted the…Continue Reading

Child & Child Tiara and Comb

In 1848, English painter William Holman Hunt founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They rejected what they considered to be the mechanistic approach of Mannerist artists, who came after Michelangelo and Raphael, for a more elegant, intensely colored, and sophisticated style. Mr. Hunt was a regular client of Child & Child (1880-1916), a jewelry firm known for…Continue Reading