Combs have been used by people since ages and probably date back to the Stone Age, when man, for the first time, created a solid tool with teeth, to tame his hair.
It is interesting to know that the initial uses of comb were not restricted to hair care and straightening. They were also used as decorative accessories. Combs are among the oldest tools to have been discovered by archaeologists. They can be made with a variety of materials, including wood and plastic. In the present times, a variety of combs is being made to meet different purposes, such as simple combs, hot combs and lice combs. In case you are wondering when and how combs came into existence, read on to know their detailed history.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Hair Combs
It is believed that the earliest made combs were those of bone, ivory and wood, while silver, brass and tin were later used to make them. Sweden is historically associated with the origin of comb. The oldest known comb is from Sweden and dates back to 2,500 BC, when combs were used not just to care for hair, but also as a decorative piece. They used to be one of the main accessories at that time. Combs dating back to 1800-500 BC have also been found, when they were made of bronze and bone and were given as burial gifts. In the early Iron Age (500 BC – 400 AD), combs were made of iron, were wider and had a half-moon shape. In the late Iron Age (400 – 1050 AD), narrower and loner combs were made. Double combs also marked their appearance during this time.
It was during the Middle Ages (14th century) that the comb underwent its main development. At this time, a new instrument came to be used for making combs, known as comb-maker. Combs made of wood or bone that came from either deer or moose horn began to be made, using the comb-maker. Tortoise shell and horn were the common materials used to make comb in the early to mid-19th century. An advantage of using tortoise shell and horn was that these materials could be heated to become soft and moldable. As they hardened, they would retain their new shape. The feathers from Chinese Kingfisher were also used for designing the combs at one point of time.
During the late-19th century, two brothers, Isaiah and John Hyatt, in the quest for finding an alternative to ivory, conducted an experiment. They developed a plastic material called celluloid, using nitro-cellulose and camphor as primary ingredients. Celluloid can be credited for changing the history of combs significantly, as it came to be increasingly used for making combs. They could now be made fast and with very less expenditure.
This led to the formation of a whole new comb industry. Celluloid surfaced at the right time, as tortoise shell and ivory were becoming increasingly expensive to avail. In 1993, the Antique Comb Collectors Club was formed to collect vintage combs, which boasts of a fascinating collection of centuries old combs. Today, combs are used all over the world, for the purpose of grooming hair.