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Compacts - Facts and Tips

Cleaning & Storing

Ladies have been known to carry some pretty fancy compacts throughout the decades. Many women have had assortments of compacts to choose from as they often acquired them as gifts from husbands, suitors and friends. One of the major accessories for the handbag was the compact and powdering one's nose soon became a major event.

Although some of these little accessories were plainer and suited for practicality, many more were far from ordinary.  Art Deco styles were all the rage during the 1920's, the rhinestone studded examples were a must have during the 1930's through the 1950's.

The rarer compacts offer a special appeal to today's collector.  Hatpins with compacts built into the head are a wonderful find.  These came complete with tiny ostrich feather puffs. Both vintage toy and compact collectors desire the hard-to-find Schuco jointed teddy bears and stuffed monkeys, where powder containers hid within their bodies.

Others spotlight their collections with compacts known as "flapjacks." These collectibles resemble a large, flat pancake. They often measure a whooping 6" or so inches in diameter. If a large mirror was needed, the flapjack surely filled the requirement, with glare to spare.



At one time compacts were a favorite souvenir. All types of compacts featuring everything from the Florida Everglades to Mount Rushmore can be found on the market today. Sweetheart compacts are also popular since they feature patriotic and military themes generally related to World War II.

Compact prices have continued to rise as the numbers of collectors increases. Even the most common examples usually sell for $20 and up. The rare examples mentioned above can sell for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each, when found complete and in excellent condition.

Figural compacts are also considered rare or more appropriate, scarce. These examples, shaped to resemble everything from chairs to pianos, surface fairly frequently but the steep prices and heavy competition keep many collectors from owning them.

Even though compacts can get formidable prices, a nice collection featuring a wide range of examples can still be accumulated  for much less money than other categories of collecting. 

Keeping your compact clean is not a complicated matter.  Just as you would throw out old make-up, empty out old powder and brush clean regularly. Chemicals in powder can discolor the metal.  Some metal can be gently buffed with very fine steel wool to re-new or bring out the sheen but very gently so not to scratch.  Never immerse your compact in water, that's not good for the mirror and will cause erosion.  Washing puffs or sifters is at your discretion but they could disintegrate.  Application of sticky labels should be placed on the mirror.  Do not store your compacts in plastic bags since moisture could collect and cause pre-mature aging or damage.

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