VINTAGE HAIR ACCESSORIES
The constantly changing fashions in hair styles between the wars produced a whole range of attractive and sometimes valuable accessories
Victorian and Edwardian ladies boasted hairstyles that reflected the essentially gentle, passive nature of their lives. They generally had long hair, elaborately styled in complex twists, rolls and turns, that would not take too readily to frenzied activity.
In the 1920s, flappers embracing the vitality and excitement of the Jazz Age rejected the soft, protected ways of their mothers and grandmothers.
Off came the luxuriant tresses in favour of the bobbed look, worn with no other adornment than an occasional head band.
It was only the avant-garde of the Bright Young Things who went this far, though. Most women stuck pretty much to the old ways, as magazines of the time show.
For evening wear, the fashion was to have the hair swept up and dressed with diamante' combs, bunches of feathers, perhaps a fresh flower or two and a jewelled harem band across
the brow. Daytime styles favoured a side parting on the left and tortoiseshell or silver combs.
The comb, a favourite hair ornament since the 19th century, was used coquettishly in the 1920s, perched at an angle at the side or back of the head.
When short hair did catch on towards the end of the 1920s, it was not styled in the tomboyish fashion of earlier in the decade, but with tight waves and curls, made to peek out from beneath the fashionable cloche hats.
Tongs to produce marcel waves, named after the Parisian hairdresser who developed the tongs in the 1870s, were already to be found in every salon and not a few homes, but more permanent waves only became available in the mid-1920s.
Home perm kits did not come in until the 1930s, at a time when longer styles made a comeback, with rolls or waves at the back and pin curls at the sides. By the end of the decade, the rolled fringe and short, sleek pageboy cut had arrived.
The years between the wars not only saw the introduction of new decorative styles and designs in grooming accessories, but also the appearance of new materials, such as plastics, and bright new
Mappin & Webb Silver & Tortoiseshell Brush
Real or fake tortoiseshell was a popular choice for all kinds of grooming accessories, as well as for decorative combs and hair slides, throughout the inter-war years.
Ornamental combs, tiaras, head bands and hair slides may nowadays be found in specialist shops. Some will be on sale at fairs, antiques markets and more general dealers.
Dressing-table sets are worth more if boxed. If they are silver, check the hallmarks carefully.
If they are plated, make sure the plating has not been rubbed thin.
The mirror should be clear, not spotted; brushes should have all their tufts, and combs all their teeth.
Combs, bands and hair jewellery are bought for display and for wear, so make sure they fit with your personal style.
Combs from the 1920s often had large decorative crests, while later ones were small and discreet. Any accessory with small paste stones should be checked, as missing ones are hard to replace.
Hair-cream bottles and jars are still fairly cheap, although rarely found. Check for chips and cracks and make sure the labels are in good condition. Wet hands may have rubbed the print or caused the paper to lift.
Tools of the hairdresser's trade, such as crimpers, driers and tongs, sometimes turn up in junk shops.
Never, however, use an old electrical appliance without first having it checked by an electrician.