Antique and collectible history / compact mirrors

Djer Kiss - Kerkoff Heritage & History

Djer Kiss - Kerkoff Heritage & History

This compact is widely admired as the epitome of Art Nouveau.  Made in 1925 the Djer Kiss "Kissing Fairies" powder compact is a silver plated compact duo. This case marked the end of the Rowland-Smith fairy theme vanities. The firm had made the decision to move to the more en vogue Art Deco theme. Almost as soon as this vanity was produced it was considered old fashioned, which is good news for collectors, as it had a relatively short production run. It is a highly collectible antique compact rouge. Superbly well made as you can feel by its weight - an exquisite antique compact! In fact the weight of the case, how much space it took up in the hand & the depth are factors that ensured this was not a popular case at the time, hence a short production run. Sleeker, slim line & light weight cases were the order of the day. The famous sight of the lid hardly needs any introduction - two fairies kissing surrounded by gorgeous Art Nouveau flowers.

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Elgin American (Illinois Watchcase Company) Accessories & History

Elgin American (Illinois Watchcase Company) Accessories & History

The Elgin American story started when Max Eppenstein began working in the jewellery quarter of New York in the late 1870s. In 1880 Solomon Eppenstein joined his brother and together they ran the M C Eppenstein & Company, (aka Eppenstein Brothers Company). The premises were located at  67 Washington St, Chicago. Initially the firm was only involved in the wholesale jewellery trade. 
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Richard Hudnut Compacts & Heritage

Richard Hudnut Compacts & Heritage

Richard Hudnut studied at The Brooklyn Collegiate & Polytechnic Institute which was essentially a finishing school for young gentlemen.  It would safe to assume that some part of his education was pharmacy as he was the eldest son & he followed Alexander into that business.

When Richard was eighteen years old he began working for his father & for seven years he learned every aspect of this business, starting at the bottom. Either he or his father realised the huge potential for growth the perfume & vanity business offered. It was noticed that many French perfume houses (Rigaud & LT Piver) were selling well in America & naturally the Hudnuts wanted a slice of the action too. Both father & son visited Europe to study how the Europeans, most particularly the French conducted their business affairs. The South of France is so important for the essential oils it produces.

By the age of 59 Alexander had decided to retire due to ailments. He sold Hudnut’s Pharmacy & another NY based store for a reported quarter of a million dollars. The stores kept the name as this ensured future custom & indeed the name as well as the trade ensured this huge price tag. Although this was confusing as his son, Richard was also trading too.


A third pharmacy on 925 Broadway was operated by Richard Hudnut. Obviously his business was booming too as he moved into the prestigious The Dakota. From 1895 & for the next four years Richard Hudnut promoted his new fragrances in that year Extreme Violet, Superba & Indianotis. The year later Violet Sec. In 18982 Yanky, Lily of The Valley & the following year Violet Superba Face Powder.


To say that the trading situation was confusing is correct, despite the fact that Hudnut's Pharmacy and Richard Hudnut made efforts to distinguish each-other's products. Often the two Hudnut brands can only be identified by the addresses on the advertisements and labels. In 1893 Richard Hudnut launched the ‘Hudnutine’ brand. This brand included tooth powder, face powder, rouge and cold cream. Some say that the Hudnutine brand was the first cosmetic line.
You can find out more on the history behind this revered vintage brand in our bespoke fact packs that are supplied with every order from The Vintage Compact Shop - browse Richard Hudnut products here.
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The History of Evans Case Company

The History of Evans Case Company

The Evans Case Company of North Attleboro, MA was a huge concern making accessories in America. Manufacturing between 1920 and 1960. If you study Evans cases over those forty years you will see the evolution of vanities.

Colonel Obed Robinson who was a skilled blacksmith & clock maker began a jewellery / jewelry business in Attleboro in 1807. The 1812 war meant that soldiers needed buttons & so production was changed to suit this purpose.

The Colonel & his son, Otis, are credited with starting America’s first button making concern. As you can imagine button making was a very necessary business & their firm became a huge thriving business & the area was at one time named Robinsonville.

In 1848 Daniel Evans purchased the business then known as R & W Robinson.

It was still a button making company & Mr Evans renamed the company D Evans & Co. His son Edwin followed him into business, however many other companies were also producing buttons & demand for the firm’s wares declined.

The company needed to produce other items to remain viable & this it did. A ‘Novelty Department’ creating picture frames & neck chains for American soldiers dog tags was set up & Alfred Reilly was hired by the company to run this new department. 

You can find out more on the history behind this revered vintage brand in our bespoke fact packs that are supplied with every order from The Vintage Compact Shop - browse our various Evans compact mirrors.

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Zenette Compacts & History

Zenette Compacts & History

The brand name Zenette was owned by the Collins family - C.H.Collins & Sons Ltd of Hockley Hill, Birmingham, England. The company was in operating from the first decade of the 20th Century.

At the British industries Fair of 1929 they were listed as manufacturers of “Collar studs, sleeve links, ...powder boxes & compacts.” From the mid 1920s to 1940 Zenette branded compacts were often highly stylized Art Deco designs.

Some of the most beautiful Art Deco powder compacts made from non-precious metal were Zenette.

Records show that the Company was still operating in the 1960s but by then the style of powder compact has changed to a ‘modern’ shape. No longer loose powder compacts.

If you were to ask us to name the manufacturer of the most stylish Art Deco English compacts that were made from non-precious metals our answer would be ‘Zenette’.

You can find out more on the history behind this highly revered vintage brand in our bespoke fact pacts that are supplied with every order from The Vintage Compact Shop - shop Zenette compacts and accessories here.

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Dorothy Gray Compacts & Heritage

Dorothy Gray Compacts & Heritage

Without doubt Dorothy Gray compacts are some of the most collectible & eye-catching.

During WWI the Company first appeared & its founder was one of those remarkable women who was a pioneer in the cosmetic business. Although today nobody except compact collectors have heard of this lady in her day she was as well known as Helen Rubinstein or Elizabeth Arden.

She was a farmer’s daughter born on 18th December 1886 in Maine, USA. She was named Dorothy Cloudman. Later on she changed aged 24 years old she changed her name to Dorothy Cloudman Gray.

Her first notable employment in the cosmetics business was working in Elizabeth Arden’s Fifth Avenue Salon. By 1915 she had been sacked as Elizabeth Arden had found out that she was living with a man to whom she was not married.

Fortunately there was a huge demand in America for beauty treatments and so her business flourished.

In 1922 her Company started to manufacture its own preparations. The laboratory was situated on East Fifty Ninth Street manufacturing face creams. Later on rouge & face powder were added to the list of goods produced & eventually in 1924 her first compact was produced.

You can find out more on the history behind this revered vintage brand in our bespoke fact pacts that are supplied with every order from The Vintage Compact Shop - browse Dorothy Gray compacts and accessories here.

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Stratton Compact Mirrors & Heritage

Stratton Compact Mirrors & Heritage

The company we know today as 'Stratton' began trading in 1860. At this time they were a knitting needle manufacturer. They marketed their first powder compact in 1923. Their compacts were imported from the USA, and given the name “Stratnoid”. Which was the same brand name as the company’s knitting needles. 
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Coty Compacts & Heritage

Coty Compacts & Heritage

In 1904 Francois Coty founded his company in Paris. His dream was to revolutionize perfume making.

In 1908, Coty relocated his manufacturing headquarters to Suresnes. He acquired property and began to turn the area a center of excellence dedicated to the manufacture of perfume, to realize his dreams. “ La cite des parfums “ would, at its height employ in the region of 9000 staff. It had the capacity to manufacture 100,000 bottles of perfume a day.

Coty knew that he needed to appeal to a wider clientele & he had to make his cosmetics more affordable. Hugely influential artists, designers & artisans were used to create the luxurious nature of this brand. Rene Lalique & the Glassworks of Baccarat were engaged to produce the most gorgeous creations in which Coty sold his perfumes.

Products as luxurious as Rene Lalique glass had never been made available to the mass market & these eye-catching works of art enhanced Coty’s standing in the trade.

You can find out more on the history behind this revered perfumer in our bespoke fact packs that come with every order - shop the collection.

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