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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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Victorian sterling compact
Oct 05, 2:00 PM PDT
Victorian sterling compact
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $50- $100
$302 Bids
Large Persian Silver Powder Compact
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
Large Persian Silver Powder Compact
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
LOT OF 2 ELGIN AMERICA MAKE UP COMPACT HOLDERS
Oct 12, 11:00 AM EDT
LOT OF 2 ELGIN AMERICA MAKE UP COMPACT HOLDERS
by Vintage Auctions Online
Est: $10- $30
$51 Bid
GROUP OF FIVE SILVER COMPACTS
Oct 06, 9:00 AM PDT
GROUP OF FIVE SILVER COMPACTS
by Abell Auction
Est: $200- $300
$1501 Bid
Compact / powder box silver.
Oct 11, 10:00 AM CEST
Compact / powder box silver.
by Veilinghuis de Ruiter
Est: €55- €120
€550 Bids
Powder box with tourmaline gold.
Oct 11, 10:00 AM CEST
Powder box with tourmaline gold.
by Veilinghuis de Ruiter
Est: €4,200- €8,500
€4,2000 Bids
Boucheron, Paris, Art Déco Puderdose / Poudrier / An Art Deco silver powder compact with rubies, um 1935
Oct 08, 9:00 AM CEST
Boucheron, Paris, Art Déco Puderdose / Poudrier / An Art Deco silver powder compact with rubies, um 1935
by Auktionshaus Schwab
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
Silver powder box
Oct 06, 10:00 AM CEST
Silver powder box
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €0- €0
€600 Bids
Vintage gold-copper tone Flower design square powder mirror compact
Oct 04, 7:00 PM EDT
Vintage gold-copper tone Flower design square powder mirror compact
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $30- $45
$150 Bids
Gold and silver tone clear crystals Dolphin Flower on red background mirror compact
Oct 04, 7:00 PM EDT
Gold and silver tone clear crystals Dolphin Flower on red background mirror compact
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $40- $60
$150 Bids
White leather Japanese design woman compact magnifying mirror
Oct 04, 7:00 PM EDT
White leather Japanese design woman compact magnifying mirror
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $40- $60
$200 Bids
Vintage gold tone textured finish square powder compact mirror
Oct 04, 7:00 PM EDT
Vintage gold tone textured finish square powder compact mirror
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $30- $45
$150 Bids
AN ART DECO SILVER AND ENAMEL COMPACT together with another. Largest 6 cm x 5 cm. (2)
Oct 12, 9:30 AM BST
AN ART DECO SILVER AND ENAMEL COMPACT together with another. Largest 6 cm x 5 cm. (2)
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£300 Bids
A 1970S ENGLISH SILVER AND ENAMEL COMPACT. Birmingham 1979. 80.8 grams. 7 cm wide.
Oct 12, 9:30 AM BST
A 1970S ENGLISH SILVER AND ENAMEL COMPACT. Birmingham 1979. 80.8 grams. 7 cm wide.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £30- £50
£200 Bids
A DUNHILL SILVER COMPACT. 64 grams inc glass. 7.5 cm x 5.5 cm.
Oct 12, 9:30 AM BST
A DUNHILL SILVER COMPACT. 64 grams inc glass. 7.5 cm x 5.5 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£300 Bids
Italian parcel Gilt 800 Silver compact with enamel courting scene
Oct 30, 10:00 AM PDT
Italian parcel Gilt 800 Silver compact with enamel courting scene
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $200- $250
$1600 Bids
Estee Lauder Porcelain & Gold Tone Compact
Oct 10, 6:00 PM EDT
Estee Lauder Porcelain & Gold Tone Compact
by Antiques & Art International
Est: $50- $75
$250 Bids
Estee Lauder Gold Tone Compact
Oct 10, 6:00 PM EDT
Estee Lauder Gold Tone Compact
by Antiques & Art International
Est: $50- $75
$250 Bids
Estee Lauder Porcelain & Gold Tone Compact
Oct 10, 6:00 PM EDT
Estee Lauder Porcelain & Gold Tone Compact
by Antiques & Art International
Est: $50- $75
$250 Bids
POWDER COMPACT
Oct 25, 3:00 PM CEST
POWDER COMPACT
by International Art Sale Italy
Est: €6,500- €7,500
€6,5000 Bids
Italian Gilt Reticulated 800 Silver compact with miniature scene, c1920
Oct 30, 10:00 AM PDT
Italian Gilt Reticulated 800 Silver compact with miniature scene, c1920
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $300- $400
$2500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Compacts


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Antiques & Art International

Antiques & Art International

Kinghams Auctioneers

Kinghams Auctioneers