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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Antique Victorian Silver Enamel Compact
Oct 24, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique Victorian Silver Enamel Compact
by Showplace
Est: $300- $500
$1503 Bids
ART DECO STERLING GUILLOCHE COMPACT
Oct 24, 3:00 PM PDT
ART DECO STERLING GUILLOCHE COMPACT
by Midnight Sun Antique Auction
Est: $200- $300
$1102 Bids
BEAUTIFUL ENAMELED GUILLOCHE 2 1/2" COMPACT
Oct 21, 1:00 PM EDT
BEAUTIFUL ENAMELED GUILLOCHE 2 1/2" COMPACT
by Elite Auctioneers, LLC
Est: $100- $1,000
$202 Bids
Niki de Saint Phalle Powder Box
Nov 07, 12:00 PM EDT
Niki de Saint Phalle Powder Box
by Palm Beach Modern Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$1002 Bids
Engraved Sterling Lady's Makeup Set on Chain
Oct 27, 11:00 AM EDT
Engraved Sterling Lady's Makeup Set on Chain
by Caza Sikes
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Eight ladies' compacts,
Oct 19, 10:00 AM BST
Eight ladies' compacts,
by Sworders
Est: £80- £120
£601 Bid
Vintage Compact & Holder, Evans Mop Carry- All
Oct 23, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Compact & Holder, Evans Mop Carry- All
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Lot of Assortment have compacts, power box and a lighter.
Oct 20, 9:00 AM EDT
Lot of Assortment have compacts, power box and a lighter.
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
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19c Tortoise Shell Compact w Painted Portrait
Nov 07, 12:00 PM EDT
19c Tortoise Shell Compact w Painted Portrait
by Neely Auction
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
An Art Deco enamelled silver compact,
Oct 19, 10:00 AM BST
An Art Deco enamelled silver compact,
by Sworders
Est: £150- £250
£1200 Bids
Sterling Silver Antique Ladies Personal Compacts
Oct 27, 12:00 PM EDT
Sterling Silver Antique Ladies Personal Compacts
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$500 Bids
CARTIER 14K GOLD AND STERLING ART DECO COMPACT
Oct 23, 10:00 AM EDT
CARTIER 14K GOLD AND STERLING ART DECO COMPACT
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
Buccellati, Gold shell compact
Oct 20, 11:00 AM EDT
Buccellati, Gold shell compact
by Rago Arts and Auction Center
Est: $8,000- $10,000
$6,0000 Bids
An early 20th century Iraqi silver and niello compact, circa 1930 possibly signed Jassim or Hakim
Oct 20, 10:00 AM BST
An early 20th century Iraqi silver and niello compact, circa 1930 possibly signed Jassim or Hakim
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £100- £150
£100 Bids
An early 20th Iraqi silver and niello compact, Basra or Omara circa 1930
Oct 20, 10:00 AM BST
An early 20th Iraqi silver and niello compact, Basra or Omara circa 1930
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £100- £150
£100 Bids
Vintage Roulette Wheel Compact Case
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Vintage Roulette Wheel Compact Case
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $20- $200
$200 Bids
Lot of misc. compact, and more
Oct 18, 2:00 PM PDT
Lot of misc. compact, and more
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $30- $90
$100 Bids
COMPACT
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CEST
COMPACT
by International Art Sale Italy
Est: €3,500- €4,200
€1,7000 Bids
COMPACT
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CEST
COMPACT
by International Art Sale Italy
Est: €2,500- €3,200
€1,2000 Bids
A GOOD LATE 19TH/EARLY 20TH CENTURY .925 HALLMARKED CONTINENTAL SILVER LADIES POWDER COMPACT
Oct 21, 10:00 AM BST
A GOOD LATE 19TH/EARLY 20TH CENTURY .925 HALLMARKED CONTINENTAL SILVER LADIES POWDER COMPACT
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £400- £600
£2000 Bids
NOVE OGGETTI IN ARGENTO
Oct 20, 8:00 PM CEST
NOVE OGGETTI IN ARGENTO
by Benedetto Trionfante Casa d’Aste
Est: €250- €300
€1200 Bids
A Marvel Dust Compact
Oct 17, 1:00 PM EDT
A Marvel Dust Compact
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $15- $150
$150 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Compacts


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions

Elite Auctioneers, LLC

Elite Auctioneers, LLC

Hindman

Hindman