Posts Tagged ‘compact’



Beautifully vanity compact carry-all purse with a nice handle, made from gold tone metal and black suede. The interior is lined with satin and features a rectangular mirror, plus three individual compartments for loose powder, lipstick and a powder puff. The metal and the clasp are in perfect condition, c.1930.



This is another very pretty black silk purse is a bit like a carry all of vanity type purse. I believe it is from the 50’s and is French in origin. It is lined with caramel suede. The clasp is nice and secure, and the mirror is in mint condition. If the purse was used, it would have been rarely and gently.

Some other examples…








Purses, pouches or bags have been used since humans have needed to carry precious items. The purse, which came in many shapes and sizes, was a common accessory for both men and women.

coca bags - Bolivia

coca bags - Bolivia



History of Handbags & Purses

The pouch is a form that has existed since prehistoric times. Made from vegetable fibers twisted together or animal skins, the bags appear to have held many functions, ranging from seed storage to burial containers.




Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show men wearing purses around the waist, and the Bible specifically identifies Judas Iscariot as a purse carrier.
The aegis refers to several different things in Greek mythology. Robert Ranke Graves in “The Greek Myths” (1955) asserts that the aegis in its Libyan sense had been a shamanic pouch, filled with powerful ritual objects belonging to Athena.
Handbags were used by the Babylonians and Assyrians from 1500 BCE to 550 BCE. They were richly embroidered and used for religious ceremonies.


Ecclesiastical purses were highly significant and were used to hold relics.
San Eloi (Limoges 590-659) once preached an excellent sermon, still preserved, against superstition. He denounced particularly the use of charms and incantations. But he had his own little streak of superstition. When he had committed some fault, after confession, he used to hang bags of relics in his room, and watch them for a sign of forgiveness.
Included in the treasury of an ancient cathedral in Sion, Switzerland, are five purses or bags that had been designed to withhold the revered relics of saints. The pouches are dated to the fourteenth-century but are of unknown origin.



The first evidence of a handbag with any role as a fashion accessory came in medieval times, when wealthy women would embellish the simple bag they wore on their belts to carry their necessities, with lavish embroidery and even jewels, to reflect their status.
From the 14th to 16th centuries the city of Caen, France, was noted for its embroidered bags and purses, which had the local name of tasques (tasque, tasche or tasse), whence the street inhabited by the embroiderers was called the Rue Tasquiere.

Et de passer devant l’huys ne se lasse,
Et met à point ou sa robe ou sa tasse.

Le Debat de deux fortunes d’amours
by Alain Chartier (1390-c.1440)




The handbags that have been verified historically were small sacks carried by gentlemen containing pomanders (scented spices and oranges), flint and money. These were called “pockets” and were hung by thongs from the back of the girdle.
From the 17th century to the late 19th century, most women had at least one pair of pockets, which served a similar purpose as a handbag does today.

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon round it.

Lucy Locket
English nursery rhyme.



In the 1790s women began to use reticules, decorative bags designed be carried over the arm in the manner of our contemporary handbag.



The term ‘handbag’ first came in to use at the beginning of the twentieth century and was used for leather bags then carried by men. It was the 1920’s that saw the first emergence of the modern handbag carried by women.


This exciting accessory can be divided in many categories depending on their age, quality, style and design: Pouch Bags, Reticule-Miniature purses, Beaded Bags, Clutches, Black Bags, Pocket books, Evening Bags, Purses.
It can be made in different materials: embroidery stitches, gilt-trimmed velvets, soft leathers, crocheting, silk tapestries, metals, precious stones and sparkly beads
The handbag was a symbol of their new independence women could now go forth into the world carrying all they needed themselves.

Valentino Handbag

Valentino Handbag

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This compact box is pure art deco. The interior is fitted with a pair of rouge pots, two original puffs, the mirror and one lipstick case.

Period 1900-20


Houbigant – Collectibles

Houbigant mark

Jean-Francois Houbigant opened his first shop at 19 Faubourg Saint-Honore, Paris, in 1775. Named “The Flower Basket” (1), the shop originally sold wig powder, perfume, fans, pomade and gloves.

An early client was Queen Marie Antoinette, and patronage by various royal families continued throughout the nineteenth century (Joséphine, Napoleon, King Louis XV, Madame du Barry, Queen Marie of Romania, Queen Victoria). The legend has it that when Marie Antoinette was fleeing to Varennes to escape the French revolutionaries she was recognised as royalty because of her Houbigant perfume, which only royalty could afford. By the late 1920s, Houbigant had a base in the United States (New York) and was selling its fine face powders in compacts. Compacts featuring Houbigant’s flower basket logo and vanities with abstract Deco designs are highly collectible.

(1) “A la Corbeille de Fleurs”

Marie-Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

Marie-Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

Copy of Napoleon's order

Copy of Napoleon's order

Houbigant Prints

Houbigant purse - 1931

Houbigant purse - 1931

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