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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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Antique 800 Silver Enamel Compact Case
Jun 11, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique 800 Silver Enamel Compact Case
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$1255 Bids
Group Of Vintage Sterling Silver Compacts
Jun 08, 11:00 AM EDT
Group Of Vintage Sterling Silver Compacts
by Gulfcoast Coin and Jewelry
Est: $400- $500
$464 Bids
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2005 Estée Lauder LUCKY DRAGON Beautiful Perfume Compact
May 30, 6:00 PM EDT
2005 Estée Lauder LUCKY DRAGON Beautiful Perfume Compact
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$114 Bids
Vintage Compact
May 30, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Compact
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$203 Bids
Antique Italian Gilt & Enamel 800 Silver Compact
Jun 06, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique Italian Gilt & Enamel 800 Silver Compact
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$502 Bids
Vintage Sterling Silver Ladies Compact Case
Jun 11, 12:00 PM EDT
Vintage Sterling Silver Ladies Compact Case
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $100- $1,000
$752 Bids
20th Century Guilloche Compact,
Jun 05, 10:00 AM AEST
20th Century Guilloche Compact,
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD60- AUD80
AUD502 Bids
Group of 35+ Makeup Compacts and More
Jun 08, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of 35+ Makeup Compacts and More
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$402 Bids
Three Assorted Compacts,
Jun 05, 10:00 AM AEST
Three Assorted Compacts,
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD40- AUD60
AUD301 Bid
TEN GUILLOCHE ENAMALED METAL BOXES AND COMPACTS
Jun 06, 10:00 AM EDT
TEN GUILLOCHE ENAMALED METAL BOXES AND COMPACTS
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$501 Bid
Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Terrier Compact
Jun 12, 12:00 PM EDT
Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Terrier Compact
by South Bay Auctions Inc
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
German Gilt Silver Compact,
Jun 01, 10:30 AM AEST
German Gilt Silver Compact,
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD600- AUD1,200
AUD5001 Bid
American Art Deco Sterling Silver and Enamel
Jun 05, 10:00 AM AEST
American Art Deco Sterling Silver and Enamel
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD150- AUD250
AUD1001 Bid
Vintage Celluloid Hand Cigarette Case & Compact
Jun 01, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Celluloid Hand Cigarette Case & Compact
by Searchlight / Saucon Valley Auctions
Est: $50- $100
$251 Bid
German Silver and Ruby Compact,
Jun 01, 10:30 AM AEST
German Silver and Ruby Compact,
by Aalders Auctions
Est: AUD600- AUD1,200
AUD5001 Bid
Group of 15 Makeup Compact Cases
Jun 08, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of 15 Makeup Compact Cases
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
Three feminine accessories in silver and silver-plated metal
Jun 04, 3:00 PM CEST
Three feminine accessories in silver and silver-plated metal
by Casa d'aste ARCADIA
Est: €0- €0
€201 Bid
Vintage Stratton Pleasant Compact, England, 1950's-1960's
Jun 02, 6:00 PM EDT
Vintage Stratton Pleasant Compact, England, 1950's-1960's
by Maria's Vintage & Estate Treasures
Est: $55- $60
$500 Bids
(2) .800 SILVER MAKEUP COMPACT & .950 SILVER SCROLLED FOLIATE CASE
Jun 09, 10:00 AM CDT
(2) .800 SILVER MAKEUP COMPACT & .950 SILVER SCROLLED FOLIATE CASE
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $150- $250
$1000 Bids
Cartier Vintage Diamond 18k Gold Enamel Compact Box Vanity Case
May 30, 2:15 PM EDT
Cartier Vintage Diamond 18k Gold Enamel Compact Box Vanity Case
by OG Collections
Est: $30,155- $35,155
$25,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Compacts


Wright

Wright

Aalders Auctions

Aalders Auctions

Omni Auction Corp

Omni Auction Corp

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers