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Compacts

For decades, a woman didn’t leave the house without a compact to take a peek her reflection, then dab and touch up her look if necessary. In the earlier days, compacts were almost solely used for powder, which was milled and compressed into an easy-to-carry form.

Today, compacts are multifaceted beauty tools, housing everything from cream-based cover-ups to specially formulated blush. Often as ornate and beautiful as they are functional, compacts have become valuable collectibles.

Some of the most common vintage compacts are mid-century creations, made from base metals or constructed like costume jewelry. Highly valuable pieces were commissioned by wealthy society ladies, who tapped jewelers like Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, and Tiffany to handcraft them from silver, gold, or platinum These compacts are sometimes enameled or lacquered and studded with precious or semi-precious stones and may be engraved with the owner’s initials.


Quick Facts

  • Compacts date back to the Edwardian era, a time when wearing makeup was not yet socially acceptable. Powder cases were secretly hidden inside of necklaces, hatpins, and walking sticks
  • In a 2012 Christie’s auction in New York, a Van Cleef & Arpels rectangular textured gold compact with a calibré-cut ruby and sculpted gold clasp sold for $5,625
  • In 2011, an 18K gold and enamel Deco compact by Cartier in 1925 went under the hammer at Christie's, selling for €6,875

Recommended Items at Auction

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(12) Ladies Compacts, 1950 Graduation, Art Deco
Feb 24, 10:00 AM MST
(12) Ladies Compacts, 1950 Graduation, Art Deco
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(7) Ladies Compacts, Art Deco, Elgin American
Feb 24, 10:00 AM MST
(7) Ladies Compacts, Art Deco, Elgin American
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$303 Bids
1934 COMPACT PURSE VINTAGE ANTIQUE
Feb 26, 1:00 PM CST
1934 COMPACT PURSE VINTAGE ANTIQUE
by Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$62 Bids
(5) VINTAGE GUILLOCHE ENAMEL LADIES' COMPACTS & BOXES
Feb 23, 10:00 AM CST
(5) VINTAGE GUILLOCHE ENAMEL LADIES' COMPACTS & BOXES
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $150- $250
$1252 Bids
WWII - POST WAR ARMORED CORPS SWEETHEART COMPACTS
Feb 28, 10:00 AM EST
WWII - POST WAR ARMORED CORPS SWEETHEART COMPACTS
by Centurion Auctions
Est: $100- $300
$701 Bid
Antique Hunter Case Pocket Watch Ladies Powder Compact Case
Feb 29, 6:00 PM EST
Antique Hunter Case Pocket Watch Ladies Powder Compact Case
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $10,000
$51 Bid
1830 Ivory Compact With Monogramed Sterling Engraved Plate 3"
Mar 29, 6:00 PM EDT
1830 Ivory Compact With Monogramed Sterling Engraved Plate 3"
by Auction by Daum
Est: $100- $140
$951 Bid
Sterling Silver Compact
Feb 29, 10:00 AM EST
Sterling Silver Compact
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$11 Bid
(8) Ladies Compacts, Art Deco, Texas
Feb 24, 10:00 AM MST
(8) Ladies Compacts, Art Deco, Texas
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
(8pc) Ladies Compacts, Lin Bren Creation
Feb 24, 10:00 AM MST
(8pc) Ladies Compacts, Lin Bren Creation
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
SHIP QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 FOLDING MIRROR
Mar 08, 10:30 AM EST
SHIP QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 FOLDING MIRROR
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $90- $440
$260 Bids
ANTIQUE COMPACT MADE IN USA
Mar 08, 10:30 AM EST
ANTIQUE COMPACT MADE IN USA
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $80- $340
$140 Bids
GUCCI STERLING SILVER COMPACT MIRROR
Feb 29, 6:00 PM CST
GUCCI STERLING SILVER COMPACT MIRROR
by Dallas Auction Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
19TH CENTURY ENAMEL ON SILVER VANITY POWDER BOX VIENNESE
Feb 23, 1:30 PM PST
19TH CENTURY ENAMEL ON SILVER VANITY POWDER BOX VIENNESE
by Auction Plus, Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7000 Bids
A silver compact of circular form with engine turned decoration, hallmarked
Feb 25, 9:00 AM GMT
A silver compact of circular form with engine turned decoration, hallmarked
by Claydon Auctioneers
Est: £30- £50
£300 Bids
LACQUERED SILVER TUREEN WITH BOAR'S HEAD HALLMARK, CIRCA 1930.
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
LACQUERED SILVER TUREEN WITH BOAR'S HEAD HALLMARK, CIRCA 1930.
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €200- €300
€2000 Bids
Powder box
Feb 29, 11:00 AM CET
Powder box
by Henry's Auktionshaus
Est: €240- €960
€2400 Bids
Bi-coloured gold round compact with inside mirror, gross g 129.27 circa, diam. cm 7.40 circa. Marked 630 AR....
Mar 06, 10:00 AM CET
Bi-coloured gold round compact with inside mirror, gross g 129.27 circa, diam. cm 7.40 circa. Marked 630 AR....
by Il Ponte Auction House
Est: €2,600- €3,200
€2,5000 Bids
French Art Deco Signed Boucheron 18K Gold, Silver, Ruby and Diamond Compact
Mar 01, 10:00 AM EST
French Art Deco Signed Boucheron 18K Gold, Silver, Ruby and Diamond Compact
by Collective Hudson, LLC
Est: $1,600- $2,400
$1,5000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Compacts


EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Il Ponte Auction House

Il Ponte Auction House