In many movies portraying sophisticated women, its quite common for a woman to excuse herself from the table so that she can visit the ladies room and powder her nose. We may find this somewhat of an unnecessary task today, but many years ago, powdering a nose was very popular and necessary. Before modern advances in make-up, many women would powder their nose as a means of toning down the shine that was caused by oil in the skin. Of course today many women may still use this term, but it's unlikely that they are actually powdering their nose, but rather using the restroom. The term “I have to go powder my nose”, just sounds better.
In order for women to be ready to powder their nose while they were out at dinner or the theater, it was necessary for a woman to carry some powder and a small mirror to help apply the powder. The item that made this possible was called a compact, which is named for it's small size and it's “compact” design. Women were able to carry them in their purse to use many times throughout the day.
Today it has become a very popular hobby to collect antique or vintage compacts. During what we now call the “Art Deco” period of time, compacts were more than just a container for carrying powder, but they also took on a style of their own. An antique ladies compact looks more like a piece of art or jewelry. Many contained beautiful colored stones and pearls. Others were made of an early form of plastic called, Celluloid, which allowed them to be painted on to make wonderful designs.
Because this was such a popular item during the 1930's to 1950's, compacts were given as gifts and many women had more than one. During World War II, many soldiers stationed all over Europe bought compacts for their wives and girlfriends back home in the United States.
Of the more popular brands or makers of powder compacts, Stratton makes some of the most high quality powder compacts. Owning a Stratton compact is a status symbol to many women, just like owning an expensive watch is to a man. Also popular and known for their superb styling are Volupte compacts as well as Strongwater compacts. Strongwater compacts were designed by Jay Strongwater and are admired for their beauty and uniquely detailed designs. Any of these would make a great collectible, or a unique gift for someone special.
Whether you are a serious antique compact collector or not, the beauty of the designs of antique power compacts are simply stunning. From the ornate and sophisticated styles to the more simple, elegant designs, vintage compacts offer a glimpse into our glamorous past. Although the variety and type of make-up available to women seems to be endless, a look back into history makes one grateful for what we have, while admiring the beauty of women from days long past.