Hair combs have been around since the Stone Age and used to both decorate and confine women’s hair.
Dating back to 10,000 BC, Boxwood combs were found to be some of the earliest ornaments used by women in Ancient Roman set their hair with combs made from tortoiseshell.
During the Tang Dynasty in China between 621 CE and 907 CE, women used emerald and golden decorative combs made using rhinoceros horn to hold their buns in place. Then in the Song Dynasty of 960 CE and 1279 CE, combs that were pinned on women's buns were created in elaborate shapes like phoenixes, birds, flowers, and butterflies.
Around the 12th year of the Republic, women in China began wearing extremely elaborate hair accessories called a Coronet Comb manufactured using gold, pearls, jade, or silver and painted yarn, with two flaps that hung over the shoulders with an almost one foot long comb made of white horn on top. The arrangement was so large that women needed to turn their head sideways whenever they entered a carriage or passed through a door.
In 17th century Japan, lacquered wood or tortoiseshell combs embellished with mother-of-pearl or gold and often combined with decorative hairpins called kanzashi were worn by the most fashionable of courtesans.
19th Century & Beyond
Women in the 19th century would use hair combs decorated with either gemstones or imitation jewels, whereas 20th century women continued using hair combs for longer hair made from celluloid or plastic. During the 1950s they were used to attach veils or small hats, and then the 1970s saw the creation of new styles of hair combs, including a large double-sided comb which was called a banana clip which fastened the hair in a ponytail as well as a circular hair comb which worked as a kind of headband.
Whether you are looking for a decorative hair comb from history, or something a little more recent and basic, eBay has a wide variety for you to choose from.