Hidden Small Compacts
Vanity compacts first appeared in the Art Nouveau era.
As fashion changed, and opportunities for women to go out increased, a cosmetics culture became established. In the early days of compacts, fixing (or reapplying) makeup in public was considered a social faux pas, so many small atypical sizes and hidden designs (such as inside necklaces and canes) were created for compacts.
They are all characterized by their soft, feminine contours.
This rare vanity compact is hidden inside a beautiful perfume bottle.
Cosmetic powder is concealed inside the shimmering sterling silver, and round perfume bottle. This innovative piece was made towards the end of the 19th century when putting on makeup in public was not socially accepted.
This vanity compact was designed with a motif that is typical of the Mistletoe art nouveau style. It plays on the superstition that eternal love promised under a mistletoe is romantic – a sacrosanct theme in Western Europe. This notion became popular around 1900, perhaps as a result of the various changes that arose during a period of political, economic, and cultural upheaval. There is a clasp to thread a chain through, so it may have been used as a pendant charm.
This small silver compact with a lid inlaid with white enamel has been hand painted with tiny blue flowers. It conveys the elegance of the era in which compacts came very popular. An exceptional piece reminiscent of a colorful age, this compact is attached to a silver ring, evoking images of its owner dancing with it attached to a finger.
Glacial Blue Necklace
This precious vanity compact is beautifully and delicately silvered and enameled. Vanity compacts from Denmark are rare, which only adds to the value of this item. It is difficult to produce enamel with such a glacial blue, which emphasizes the beauty of the neckline.
Lime Green Necklace
This is a lime green pendant vanity compact. Much intricate work has gone into the sterling silver lid, which was mechanically engraved in a spider's web pattern using an advanced technique prior to being coated in enamel. When cosmetics first spread, such compacts tended to be sold in jewelry shops to be worn secretly on the body.
This miniscule pale blue-green compact features an emblem of a two-headed eagle. Despite its elegance, it exudes a solid form. This is probably because the emblem is pre-dates the Russian revolution. It was produced by a company called Anna Pavlova, which was named after the famous ballerina from St. Petersburg.
Amazingly, it still contains some poppy red blush, giving the impression of a gentle woman with a sense of passion in her heart.
This multi-purpose vanity compact was created just as vanity compacts were beginning to establish a place in women's lifestyles. In the early days, many compacts were made from precious metals. This compact is also entirely made of silver. The inside of the vanity compact features a bright green cloth. Lovely little containers are included for face powder, rouge for the cheeks, lipstick, a nail file, and perfume. Other items can also be stored inside this compact. The hand-made chain characterized by its thin, long elliptical links gives the vanity compact a fragile impression. However, in reality, this chain is quite robust.
When medieval knights went off to battle, they left the keys of their castles to their wives, who hung them around their waists on chains that came to be known as “chatelaine” (literally “lady castle owner”).
The chatelaine is used as the design motif of this accessory. It is accessorized with a perfume vial, compact, and pen hanging from a decorative pin.
Russian Mesh Compact
This mesh sack was owned by nobility during Tsarist Russia. The back of the lid is used to insert loose powder.The clutch is decorated with sapphires, and the delicate pattern on the silver region set amidst the gold plating and the lid with enamel finish required advanced skills, proving that this is a compact of exceptional artistic value. Such beauty in a compact makes us wonder if a ticket to a gorgeous ball might be tucked away within the mesh sack itself. This is a beautiful piece of work from an era before so much artwork was lost during the revolution.
Bracelet from King Birendra
This bracelet-style compact is an heirloom of the Nepalese royal family from the reign of King Birendra, and is decorated with a female Nepalese deity meticulously carved out of silver. The white powder used was a poisonous mercuric compound. Reportedly, the mercuric powder was an opaque bluish-white, which looked quite beautiful.
This has a matching necklace in the set, which was the trigger to starting our collection.
Necklace from King Birendra
This necklace-style compact is an heirloom of the Nepalese royal family from the reign of King Birendra, created in hand-carved silver garnished in exquisite detail, and incorporates black jade and cinnabar on the necklace. It is a massive piece of work; rather than being a compact to store loose powder, it seems to have been intended for another, perhaps more magical, purpose. Back then, a white powder – which was actually a poisonous mercuric compound – was stored within, but this is not to say that women of the time didn't long for beauty. This compact set started off our collection.