Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Naples (made)

  • Date:

    1832-1835 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt with engraved decoration

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Italian women have always loved lavish display. Even for the poorest, a rich show of jewellery was all important. Italian goldsmiths were expert at making a little material go a very long way. Many pieces seem too large to wear comfortably, but they are usually made of very thin metal, and are much lighter than they appear. This comb is made of silver, gilded to make it look more impressive.

In Italy the way a woman dressed her hair, and the jewellery she used to fasten and decorate it, conveyed many meanings. It described her marital status and might help to protect her from spiritual harm, as well as showing off her wealth. Married women wore the most elaborate head dresses, and the largest and most expensive hair pins, to demonstrate their status.

In the south of Italy, particularly in those places which had been under Spanish rule, many women wore decorative combs in their hair. These combs were not restricted to traditional costume, and would have been worn just as readily with fashionable dress. This comb was bought as part of the Castellani collection of Italian Peasant Jewellery at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1867.

Physical description

Large silver-gilt comb engraved on the front at the top with a double-headed eagle between stars and flounces.

Place of Origin

Naples (made)


1832-1835 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt with engraved decoration

Marks and inscriptions

Woman's head with 'N', with a tilde across it, over '8', in rectangular frame.
Mark for 833 standard silver, Naples, 1832-1835.
On the front, at the base of the top at left.


Height: 10.9 cm, Width: 16.2 cm, Depth: 4.3 cm

Descriptive line

Large silver-gilt comb with engraved decoration, Naples (Italy), 1832-1835.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Italian Jewellery as worn by the Peasants of Italy', Arundel Society, London, 1868, Plate 10





Subjects depicted



Jewellery; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.