Powder Jars

Throughout history, the use of cosmetics has fallen in and out of favor as sensibilities changed. In the mid-19th century, only prostitutes and actresses, who people of the time considered to be cut from the same cloth, wore obvious makeup. Many other women discreetly used makeup, opting for barely-there applications like a subtle dusting of powder.

When face powder finally became fashionable in the late 19th century, a need arose for small refillable containers to keep the powder in. A new art form, the powder jar, was born. These palm-sized vessels, from simple containers with flat lids to elaborate sculpted pieces with ornate closures, became common sights on the vanities and dressing tables of women from the Victorian era through the '50s.

Antique cut-glass powder jars with sterling silver tops dating to the late 1800s and jars made in popular Depression glass colors from the mid-'20s through the early '40s are quite collectible. Vintage powder jars, particularly pieces produced by well-known glass companies like Lalique, Heisey, Fostoria, Cambridge, Imperial, and New Martinsville are especially sought after, as are Art Noveau figural jars with human and animal forms.


Quick Facts

  • In a 2011 Skinner auction in Dallas, an early 20th century Tiffany Studios gilt bronze powder jar with an overlaid grapevine pattern sold for $429
  • A 2010 James D. Julia auction saw an antique Lalique covered power jar in a opalescent art glass with a decorated lid sell for $1,092
  • A Van Cleef & Arpels gold power case with a fluted design and hinged lid featuring a mirror sold in a 2014 Sotheby's auction in London for an impressive £4,375

There are currently no items in Powder Jars. Please click another category to see additional items.