A vintage hair brush was usually one item of a larger matching set of vanity items for the dressing table. The set could be made up of two handheld hair brushes, a hand mirror and two clothes brushes.
The individual items in a dressing table set were often very decorative with the backs of each item embroidered with flowers, this embroidery protected by glass or in more modern times celluloid. Depending on the social standing of the owner of the set the handles might be heavily engraved in silver or might have been made from ivory or bone.
A dressing table set was also sometimes paired with a matching trinket box or powder jar made from porcelain although glass, metal and celluloid were sometimes used.
In Victorian times another item which may have been included in the set was a ‘hair receiver’ which was a small pot with a hole in the lid kept on the dressing table to store hair removed from brushes and combs. The hair was recycled in different ways such as stuffing small bags, 3-4 inches across, called ratts and these were used to bulk out women’s hairstyles. Human hair was also used for stuffing pincushions and small furnishing cushions.