National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Comb Comb
Rendered by Jessie M. Benge (artist), c. 1937
watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on paper
overall: 36.8 x 30 cm (14 1/2 x 11 13/16 in.)
Index of American Design
1943.8.2385
Not on View
From the Tour: Costumes from the Index of American Design
Object 11 of 26

The production of combs began in America in 1759. By 1773, in addition to their functional use, combs of ivory and tortoiseshell were in demand as hair ornaments. By the nineteenth century, great varieties of ornamental combs were available.

This tortoiseshell comb, made between 1825 and 1830, is both carved and etched; the etching is identical on both sides. The comb is 9 3/4 inches wide, and its height at the center is 9 inches. Its size and elaborate open carving give it a striking effect.

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