In the 1850’s tortoise shell was the choice material for ladies’ hair
combs. The hawksbill sea turtle, known for their beautiful brown mottled
shell, were put on the endangered list in 1970.
Tortoise shell fakes are rife. One of the first materials to simulate
tortoise shell was horn, derived mainly from various breeds of cattle. A
close examination shows that the mottled effect has been painted on the
surface. It does not go completely through it, as is the case with
natural turtle shell. Celluloid “tortoise shell” was molded not carved.
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild