|Hints & Tips
||Collecting compacts is largely a matter of personal preference, what
you like, what you can find and of course, how much you can afford to
spend. I have found some lovely compacts in charity shops, at car-boot
sales and flea markets, though I also buy from collector/dealers and
from Antiques Fairs. My very first compact was bought, some years ago
now, at a church bazaar for the princely sum of 20 pence! I am
unlikely to be so lucky again and I find that they are becoming more
and more difficult to find. However, some people are fortunate enough
to live in areas where there are richer pickings, so if you're
prepared to travel around, you will probably get some bargains.
I tend to buy
locally, but I have some compacts which have been
purchased from dealers on the Internet. If you have
access to the web, then you can browse to your heart's
content, but the sites I have found so far are all
American. If you live in or around the London area, then
you will find a much vaster choice. I have bought
compacts in Portobello Road and at Alfie's Market in Church street off the Edgware Road, but I don't get to
London that often.
As your interest and collection grows, you will find
that you become more discerning about what you buy. It is
worth paying a few more pounds for one compact in good
condition than two cheaper ones which are scratched,
dented, have poor hinges or are incomplete. Here are a
few tips on what to look for and therefore what to avoid
when buying compacts.
- Make sure that the hinge is sound and that the
compact shuts well and opens easily. Sometimes
the hinge may be wonky and so the lid is out of
alignment. If the compact has an inner lid,
ensure that this also shuts easily. Sometimes,
this mechanism can be damaged.
- Some compacts have two flanges to open the case.
Make sure that they are both intact.
- Older compacts are quite thin, because they held
only loose powder. A complete compact should have
a sifter and a puff inside. Either one or both of
these items can be missing, but don't be put off
if the compact itself is in good condition.
However, it is always preferable to buy as
complete as possible.
- On more modern compacts, designed to hold solid
as well as loose powder, there should be an inner
ring to hold the solid powder in place and a
sifter if you choose to use loose powder. These
compacts are usually thicker in depth.
- You may be lucky enough to buy a compact complete
with its pouch and box, though this is rare. Keep
these items, as they add to the value.
- You may see a few compacts on a dealer's stall
amongst their main stock of porcelain, china,
glass etc. I have found that sometimes, the
dealer marks them at high prices simply because
they are, for example, made by Stratton, and
regardless of the condition, which is often very
poor. I would avoid buying them.
- Some compacts will still hold the original
powder. It is advisable to clean your compact,
sifter and puff. I use an old toothbrush for this
purpose and a cotton-wool bud to get into the
corners. Be careful of washing the sifter and
puff, as they can disintegrate
- Never use a strong abrasive
cleaner on the case as this can remove the
surface lacquer or design. A very good tip, from
one of our members, is to use lighter fuel on a
cotton cloth or cotton-wool to clean your
- If the mirror is broken or missing, it is
possible to have it replaced. However,
mirror-glass is very thin, usually 0.05",
and is extremely difficult to get hold of. Unless
the compact is stunning, I would avoid buying.
- Sticky price labels are a hazard as the surface
of the compact can sometimes come away when the
label is removed. Carefully remove the label
using a cotton bud soaked in either methylated
spirit or nail-varnish remover.
- Keep a record of your collection, either in a
notebook, or perhaps on a word-processor file.
You can also keep a photographic file. Record the
make, description, date of purchase, where you
bought it & how much you paid.
- It is nice to have your compacts on display if
possible. Some of our members have
specially-designed lined drawers or cabinets, or displayed beneath a glass-topped coffee-table
which is very attractive. I have most of my small
collection in a china cabinet, displayed on tiny
stands. If you have nowhere to display them, then
wrap each one carefully in bubble-wrap or tissue
to prevent scratching.
- Most importantly, buy what you like and
what will give you pleasure. Good luck and good