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Comb Box

Origin: America, Pennsylvania (possibly)
OH: 30"; OW: 12"; OD: 6"
Wood, glass, and metal
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Skold
Acc. No. 1992.708.3
"Tramp Art" mirror and comb box. Rectangular board with arched top serving as frame for mirror located on upper half. Pair of small wooden pockets projecting outward below mirror. Below, a larger projecting structure shaped like and inverted trapezoid consisting of a small, pyramid-shaped like parallelograms. The entire surface of board and pockets is covered with thin pieces of layered wood having chip-carved edged which are organized into diamond and triangle shapes.
Label:The maker relied on geometric designs detailed with notched edges and incised lines to create a lively effect. The rich color is the result of shellac or varnish. Each shaped piece was attached with small nails or glued to the surface below. Although it appears seamless from the front, the backing is made up of eleven pieces of cigar box wood fitted together to form the frame to which all the other pieces are attached.

A hanging mirror with holders for brushes and combs was often found by the back doors of houses in the nineteenth century. People could quickly adjust their appearance after entering or before leaving the building.