Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vanity Collectibles

Oh My Vanity...Those Brassy Filigree Dresser Boxes 

At a recent sale, we bought a collection of those rather gaudy, flashy vanity jewelry caskets from the 1960's.  I've seen them advertised from everything from ancient to antique to what they really are, 1960's kitsch.  Many different firms made the boxes to go with a plethora of vanity and dresser accessories of the same style.

Tall regal shaped perfumes, cherub encrusted lipstick holders, poodle adorned pincushions are just a few of the many items that every woman from 16 to 60 desired for her boudoir.  As a child I remember wandering into my Auntie's bedrooms to gaze in awe and desire at their lovely dresser boxes.

Of all the items, these vanity boxes are my favorites.  I've been to antique malls and seen them advertised as Victorian or even older. They are not.  They date from late 1940's into the 1970's.   The boxes came in many different sizes.  Favorite among collectors are the very large oversized boxes.  An added plus is if the beveled glass is in a smoke or bronze hue.

All are "over the top" so to speak.  Very repousse decoration are the norm.  The insides were often times lined with velvet pads or felt lining.  The very fancy ones had tufted velvet pads in the bottoms.  What better way for milady to display her treasured rhinestone baubles. Then she could view them at a glance.

The boxes came in all different sizes and shapes, round ones, square ones, heart shaped ones and even this butterfly shaped box that we recently found.

Of the many companies that made the accessories, the most common to find are Stylebuilt and Matson.  These companies operated out of San Francisco area.  And no, the Matson pieces were not giveaways from Matson Steamship Co.  So many urban myths have spread about these pretties that it is becoming difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.  A very talented collector and dealer in perfumes has a website devoted to history of these pieces and a casual search on the internet will find her guide or website.

So, when you are out and about at the estate sales and antiques fairs do not pass up these beauties from the not so distant pass.  They are lovely and make wonderful treasure boxes to display bits of jewelry and small collectibles.  I've seen tiny dolls resting inside and being perfectly at home.  They are a wonderful way to present a special gift to a special lady.  They bring back fond memories for many of us.

About the Author

Carolyn O'Bayley is one of the founders and an active member of Got Vintage Shops. She and her husband Tom have two wonderful shops:
Cobayley Plaza on Ruby Plaza.