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Combs & Brushes

Combs and brushes have been used by cultures across the world from the Neolithic period to the present. Before 1800, most combs and brushes were made from organic materials, including broken seashells, tortoise shells, jagged stones, ivory, wood, and animal bones and hair.

In 1777, William Kent opened the first hairbrush factory in London, importing a wide variety of fine bristles from merchants across India and China. In 1854, Hugh Rock patented the first modern hair brush in the United States, and in 1898, Lyda A. Newman invented a synthetic hair brush with detachable handles and air chambers for ventilation. The addition of ventilation chambers was especially important because it allowed hair brushes to be used simultaneously with hair dryers to achieve increasingly complex and modern hair styles.

Most contemporary combs and hair brushes are made of plastic or a combination of plastic handles and nylon bristles. However, natural fibers continue to be prized for their delicacy and are still used to create high-end hair brushes.


Quick Facts

  • On June 6, 2015, the John Toomey Gallery sold a René Lalique hair comb with sea holly decoration made of horn, silver, gold, and glass for $205,500
  • Kent’s hairbrush factory, known today as Kent Brushes, made hundreds of thousands of brushes for English soldiers during the first World War
  • In addition to taming and styling locks, combs have also had the important historical role of removing lice from hair and beards

Recommended Items at Auction

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Group Of 3 Celluloid Combs/picks
Jul 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Group Of 3 Celluloid Combs/picks
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$11 Bid
Group of Assorted Ivory Celluloid Pyralin Brushes, Mirrors and Hair Combs
Jul 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Group of Assorted Ivory Celluloid Pyralin Brushes, Mirrors and Hair Combs
by Nye & Company
Est: $20- $50
$101 Bid
1997 "Titanic" Rose Butterfly Comb J.Peterman Replica COA + other hair combs
Aug 06, 10:00 AM EDT
1997 "Titanic" Rose Butterfly Comb J.Peterman Replica COA + other hair combs
by Joe R. Pyle Complete Auction & Realty LLC
Est: $200- $400
$51 Bid
Three Items of Dressin Table Items with Guilloche Enamel backs. (3)
Jul 17, 10:30 AM BST
Three Items of Dressin Table Items with Guilloche Enamel backs. (3)
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £50- £75
£40 Bids
Three Shaker Brushes
Jul 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Three Shaker Brushes
by New England Auctions
Est: $150- $250
$500 Bids
VANITY ITEMS INCLUDING MIRRORS BRUSH AND FRAME
Jul 29, 4:00 PM EDT
VANITY ITEMS INCLUDING MIRRORS BRUSH AND FRAME
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
BAKELITE VANITY SET
Jul 29, 4:00 PM EDT
BAKELITE VANITY SET
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
Vintage vanity set for a dressing table, comprising a tray, brushes, and a hand-held mirror.
Jul 19, 11:00 AM AEST
Vintage vanity set for a dressing table, comprising a tray, brushes, and a hand-held mirror.
by Because Auctions
Est: AUD30- AUD50
AUD200 Bids
Art Deco Celluloid Vanity Set, C. 1920s - Pearlized celluloid, varies from taupe to tan.
Jul 23, 2:00 PM EDT
Art Deco Celluloid Vanity Set, C. 1920s - Pearlized celluloid, varies from taupe to tan.
by Bill Hood & Sons Arts & Antiques Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Three Tortoise Shell Clothes Brushes
Jul 23, 6:00 PM AEST
Three Tortoise Shell Clothes Brushes
by Theodore Bruce Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: AUD40- AUD80
AUD200 Bids
VINTAGE COMB WITH HOLDER
Jul 15, 4:00 PM CDT
VINTAGE COMB WITH HOLDER
by Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Combs & Brushes


Atlee Raber Auctioneer

Atlee Raber Auctioneer

Bill Hood & Sons Arts & Antiques Auctions

Bill Hood & Sons Arts & Antiques Auctions

Nye & Company

Nye & Company

Berner's Auction Gallery

Berner's Auction Gallery