What is this?
Tortoiseshell hair comb belonging to Ann Hull
When is it from?
1820 to 1830
Why is it Important?
Ann McCurdy Hart was only 23 when she surrendered her heart to Captain Isaac Hull, newly crowned with the laurels of his victory over HMS Guerriere. By all accounts Miss Hart was a great beauty, and her union with the hero of the moment left a train of disappointed suitors bewailing their fate. Despite their caustic remarks, the marriage proved a happy one and lasted for 30 years. Family tradition says that Isaac gave this comb to Ann. Its motif of flowers and fish linked together their two worlds- one of the land, the other of the sea. As a couple, they weathered the worst that both could throw their way.
Soon after the end of the War of 1812, female fashion, which had hitherto remained classically austere, began to assume a new exuberance of form. As gowns began to blossom with applied decorations and enormous sleeves in the 1820s and 1830s, hairdressers created hairstyles to vie with their complexity. Women who had been content to draw their locks back into a tight bun, or roll a few artfully placed side curls, now braided and teased their hair up into towering topknots. A shining, graceful tortoiseshell comb more often than not formed the finishing touch. Made during this period of the carapace of hawksbill tortoise, a material that could be heated and molded into a variety of shapes, the combs frequently featured intricately cut filigree or chased designs.
Woman’s comb, curved and carved with intricate filigree designs of flowers and a fish, arranged in horizontal bands, 5 5/8″ long; 4 7/8″ wide. The comb is broken on left side, and there is evidence of old glue from a past repair; some minute losses.