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Vintage Compacts

Femininity and beauty were indelible qualities of women in times past . Looking pristine at all times was de rigueur. A powder compact was an important addition to a woman’s handbag. Antique powder compacts can offer insight to the beauty and grace of bygone times, and can make a wonderful conversation piece, or form part of a prized collection. The heyday of these compacts were the 1930’s to the 1960’s. A more natural look for women slowly emerged into the 1970’s, obviating the need for these beauty accessories.

Vintage compacts came in all sizes and shapes. Though most compacts held powder or rouge for those quick touch-ups, they could also hold money, cigarettes, combs and lipstick. Many were brightly colored, painted with designs of nature, such as birds and flowers. Some were formed in the shape of an object such as a musical instrument or a favorite animal.

Ladies’ antique compacts were exquisitely handcrafted, and could last for a lifetime. Often they were passed down from generation to generation, becoming treasured heirlooms.

Prices of the most desirable antique ladies compacts have risen in price, which is good for the collector wanting to make an investment. One can still, however, find vintage compacts for reasonable prices, so starting a collection can be quite simple and inexpensive. Here are some of my favourites.

Vintage Stratton Red Enamel Compact with Pheasant Design

Copy of Vin Stratton Pheasant compact

Stratton was one of the most recognized manufacturers of compacts in England. This vintage compact has a lovely red enamel top decorated with a pheasant and pink & red roses, and a beautiful scalloped edge.

 1924 Vintage Rejois Rare F.W. McNess Engraved Powder Compact

Copy of RejoisVintage Compact[1]

The F.W. McNess Company was known for their cookbooks, food products and sundries; however, they also had a line of cosmetics named “Rejois”. This is a beautiful vintage Rejois compact with engraved flowers in the Art Nouveau Victorian Revival  style. On an interesting note, the original founder of the company, F.W. McNess, passed away the same year as the compact was manufactured. The company continues today, producing mainly agricultural items.

Vintage Brass Wadsworth Fan Shape Art Deco Compact

Copy of Vin Wadworth Shell Compact

The Wadsworth Watch Case Company was based in Dayton, Kentucky. They made many novelty-shaped compacts, such as fans, billiard balls, and souvenir items. This beautiful brass compact, made sometime between the mid 40s to early 50s, is in an unusual fan shape, and has a strong Art Deco influence.

Volupte Vintage Compact with Art Deco Sunburst Design


The American Volupte Company emerged as a market leader in the 1940s and ’50s, producing a range of elegant, functional compacts, vanity cases, and carryalls highly prized by today’s collectors. The compact is a gold metal square and the lid is a classic sunburst Art Deco design.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the past.

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