Al Hirschfeld Before Nina

Before he hid his daughter’s name in caricatures, Al Hirschfeld created this color drawing for the 1954 album cover of The Golden Apple, Broadway’s version of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Rejoice in the flamboyant headdresses costume designers gave to the female characters: a Japanese fan, Indian feathers, a French plume, and a bandeau. Al drew…Continue Reading

Ebay Auction: Lovely Manchu Hair Ornament

A beautiful Manchu piece sold on July 31 for $421.67. Deep blue kingfisher feathers were offset by coral, pearl, and floral decorations. A pin or chain could be put through the rings on top. Congratulations to the winner. कंघी For more scholarly research, please examine Jewelry and Accessories of the Royal Consorts of Qing Dynasty…Continue Reading

Celluloid Combs: Leominster, MA, and France’s Oyonnax Valley

Who invented celluloid? The credit cannot go to one person or one continent. However, the world’s first thermoplastic was registered in 1870. With celluloid, heat and machines could be used to mold, cut, and carve many objects per hour for the first time. Capitalists invested. Artists’ imaginations went wild. Endless possibilities of color, shape, and…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

Edo Lacquer Masterpiece

From the Miriam Slater Collection, this set features an open-top kushi design filled with gold maki-e leaves, stems, and one mother-of-pearl bud. There is a scroll ornament painted on both sides. The kogai stick has the same scroll theme diagonally carated to separate the same leaf, stem, and bud theme on both ends. Stunning Edo…Continue Reading

Clément Joyard Spiderweb Comb

Morticia Addams could not have dreamed of a more appropriate comb. This mantilla spiderweb was designed by Clément Joyard, c. 1910. He, along with Bonaz, Léon Arbez-Carme, and Marius Camet, were among the famous designers who had their combs made in the celluloid factories of France’s Oyonnax Valley. Happy Early Halloween? :-) For more scholarly…Continue Reading