To choose the best antique hair comb, look for the period and style of comb you like most, then compare prices for similar combs. Compare comb prices and conditions against the overall marketplace. You might also begin with a price limit and see what types of combs are available within your budget. In each case, confirm the authenticity of the antique hair comb you're thinking of buying. Finding the best comb for the money might take some research.
Antique combs come from many countries and time periods, so learn as much as possible about your favorite style before making a decision. Some of the oldest combs originate from China and Japan. Others come from Europe during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. An antique hair comb described as vintage, retro, or Art Deco will likely come from the twentieth century. Generally, the older the comb, the more expensive it is, and very old combs might be harder to come by because they're more likely to be in a museum.
It might help to know the general decorative style you want. Most antique combs are purely decorative and smaller than a typical hair comb. Many are side combs and will have just a few teeth. They might be adorned with various design motifs such as scrolls, flowers, leaves, or birds. Some are embedded with gems and made of precious metals or other rare materials. Other types of combs will have more value based solely on the intricacy of their design and how rare the artwork or craftsmanship is.
Time period and part of the world will partially determine the value of an antique hair comb, as will artwork and materials. Expensive antique combs might be made of gold, sterling silver, ivory, and tortoiseshell. Less expensive vintage combs might be made of celluloid or bakelite. When comparison shopping, it's helpful to know the difference in value of each of these materials.
To make sure you are getting the best antique hair comb for the price, ask merchants for a confirmation or certificate of authenticity. If you are preparing to spend a lot of money, ask if the comb has been appraised, or if you can commission your own appraisal. Also ask questions about caring for antique hair combs since you'll probably want to maintain the value of any comb you buy. The more research you do, the better prepared you'll be to make an informed decision.