Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Combs and Toothbrushes


Along with billiard balls, combs were some of the first items made from plastic. The first plastic combs were made from nitro-cellulose or celluloid and later the "unbreakable" comb arrived in the 1940's made of nylon. We find combs and brushes almost every time we go to Kehoe.

Some of the very first combs were used not for grooming but mainly for hygiene. Nit picking. Getting parasites out of the hair. Fine wood and silver combs for this purpose have been dated to 5000 years ago and it's been theorized that the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe was passed along on nit-picking combs.

Because of their rarity we particularly cherish doll's combs and brushes. We have found only two Barbie combs in all these years—amazing to see that tiny thing in the welter of debris washing in. We've got a pretty good bunch of toy plastic brushes. We found a sparkly little comb from a Ty Girlz doll. Cutesy tween-age girls, the main feature is the style-able hair. Hey, com'n get 'em: there's Pretty Patty, Totally Trish, Punky Penny. And just off the assembly line, you once could buy a set of the two Obama Girlz. It was a big controversy when the dolls were named Sasha and Malia, the actual names of the Obama daughters. The Girlz were recalled and are now called Marvelous Maria and Sweet Sydney. An unre-called pair sold on e-Bay for $3000. The dolls are brought to you by the folks who generated the Beanie Baby frenzy.

It's said that combing or brushing the hair is healthful not only for bringing luster and vitality to the hair itself but the act of stimulating the scalp has an acupunctural effect. We don't have data on this idea but it sure feels good to unsnarl the hair and run the nubs of a brush or comb along the scalp. Anyone who commutes would do well to have a scalp massager comb on hand to keep the driver alert.

The toothbrush is a part of this family as well, hog bristles on a wooden handle was the first iteration going back to China in the 1600's. Hogback bristles were widely used until the invention of nylon and in 1938 the very first use of nylon was a toothbrush —Dr. West's Miracle Brush. Toothbrushes are another thing we've found on every trip to Kehoe. We have hundreds. These days you can buy handles with replaceable heads—good ideas are coming along.


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