Powder Compacts

Powder Compacts

Charles Mallory CompactThe popularity of loose powder compacts increased in the 1920s when it became acceptable to apply makeup in public. The many beautiful and diverse compacts produced throughout the first half of the 1900s are sought after by collectors and fans of vintage fashion today.

During the early years, face powder was imported from France, the centre of the fashion industry. As the century wore on, America began to lead the market in compact production. Most examples were made of silver or coloured metal, although other fashionable materials were also used such as Tortoiseshell, and from the 1930s, Bakelite and lucite. Designs were typically floral or abstract and enhanced with enamel, faux jewels or butterfly wings. 

Compacts came in many shapes and sizes to suit every budget. Some had mechanisms that played music and others were shaped like lockets or miniature bottles. Look out for Stratton compacts with the self-opening lids the company developed to prevent broken fingernails. Especially appealing is the dove-shaped Salvador Dali 'Bird-in-Hand' compact, made from gold and silver copper and designed for US maker Elgin.
Octagonal CompactOblong Compact
Extremely popular with today’s collectors are examples that reflect the style of an era – the geometrical lines and bold colours of Art Deco are hugely popular. 
When buying, look out for examples in excellent condition. Many compacts were stored in handbags and pockets and were subject to wear. Check that mirrors are intact and that exteriors have not been damaged through use. 
Ballerina Compact
 Oval Compact

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