Rare Vintage Maravilla Powder Compacts

Rare Vintage Maravilla Powder Compacts

The Spanish word maravilla means wonderful! 

The lid decoration of this vintage compact is indeed rather wonderful. 

This compact measures 4 inches diameter and weighs 167.9 grams. We have never seen another one just like this! Although we have very little information which relates directly to the maker of this splendid vanity, we do know that this accessory was crafted in Spain as part of the luxury goods trade & it is steeped in the history of Spanish damascene ware. 

We were able to attribute the country of origin because some of the very few Maravilla brand compacts we have seen (different lid decorations) still have the original luxury tax docket. We discounted Mexico because Spain has long been associated with the damascene trade and also this compact does not have the appearance of any Mexican vanities we have ever seen. 

Collectors & specialist compact dealers have long held the belief that most of the huge vintage compact mirrors pre-date World War II. This is because during the war years and post war era, metal was in short supply and so no manufacturer would use such a large amount of metal or steel to construct what is essentially a luxury product. 


If we need further information to assure ourselves that this compact is vintage we only need to look at the mirror glass. As you will see there is no doubt that the mirror is very old. 


The luxury tax docket shown above is similar to what would have been found placed in the powder wells of Spanish made damascene compact mirrors.

This dockets translates as follows:

Luxury Tax to Metálico
Imp. (impuesto) - tax
Lujo - luxury
Permiso - permission


Could Metálico be the registered name of the maker?

Metálico does not translate to English and so it looks as though it is a proper noun.

The Spanish word for metal is metal. 

The Spanish word for company is compañía & so it would abbreviate to ”co”.

A Spanish maker of luxury metal goods could have been named Metálico.

We have not yet found any information about this maker.

This rare signed vintage Maravilla brand compact mirror is embellished with high quality damascene ware inlaid with gold.

The lid appears to feature the head of a Greek warrior in high relief.

The powder well is signed “MARAVILLA" just below the hinge.

This accessory is so well made that it does not require any cleaning or maintenance.

The next two images depict the lid of a vintage Maravilla brand hand mirror and also the interior view complete with a luxury tax docket.


Photo Credit: feiaa

The Maravilla brand of vanities is known for high quality damascene lid decorations which are inlaid with gold or silver.

The gilding is highly durable as is the damascene decoration.

Neither the gilded metal nor damascene require any maintenance.


Photo Credit: feiaa

The link below will take you to a blog post which explains the decorative process known as damascene in more detail.

More information about the origins of damascene.

The Moors are reputed to have brought the decorative process known as damascene to Spain. 

Traditionally, damascene ware is handcrafted onto steel and inlaid with gold or silver or both of these precious metals.  

The Moors arrived in Spain early in the 8th century with the intent of conquering the land and converting its inhabitants to Islam. They were mostly successful, as they remained in control of large parts of Spain for over 700 years. Their customs, music, culture, architecture, art and cuisine left an indelible mark on the country, especially Andalusia. 

Eventually, as the power of the Moors waned, Spanish royalty gained control of the country. Despite the remaining Moors being forced to convert to Christianity, King Philip III felt that their presence threatened the stability of his country partly due to the activities of the Ottoman raiding parties sent to pillage the Spanish coast and two Morisco* (converted Moors*) revolts over a century after Islam was outlawed in Spain. 

From 1609-1614, the Crown systematically expelled Moriscos through a number of decrees affecting Spain's various kingdoms.

The Moors contributed so much to the decorative arts in this region that even in the 21st century Spanish damascene ware is still famed for its beauty and durability.


More stunning vintage compact mirrors.


Please note that although we spend many hours each week updating or compiling new work for our historical blog section which is free to view, we do not offer an appraisal, identification, valuation or dating service to members of the public.

However, each purchase from our store is shipped with a lavishly illustrated history which dates the item and details the history of the item and that of the maker.