IPBA Mueller's Overview of American Compacts & Vanity Cases by Laura Mueller

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american compacts cover

Our very own Laura Mueller has published her third book about American face powder compacts and vanity cases. As usual, Laura’s book is very well researched and indexed with a fine bibliography. Her scholarly and complete glossary of terms is also a joy to any collector of vintage items. All of the more than 200 full color plates are new to this series of compact books. Vintage ads and postcards add considerably to the atmosphere conjured up by the compacts.

Indeed the photographs are so crisp that you feel as if you could just pluck a compact off the page. Laura’s writing also has the quality of a conversation with a good friend, which adds to the enjoyment by the reader. Her opinions are expressed well and from a great fund of knowledge about American compacts with a few foreign compacts for added pleasure for the reader. The main subject divisions in the book are: Presentations, Potpourri I, Potpourri II, and Aristocrats.

For the first time in print, collectors are treated to the full range of compacts an American graphic artist named Annette Honeywell. All 12 of her signed compacts are illustrated. Richard Gaige has a good biography and photo along with company information about Ciner. All of these American companies and designers have seen very little in print to date.

Many of the plates are quite mouth watering, but the true knockout is the first plate for the section called Aristocrats. The word rare is often overused and abused, but the image on page 173 of Laura’s book is both rare and perhaps even unique. Words can’t really describe this Aristocrat so a few details will have to suffice. It was perhaps done for the 1904 Paris Exposition and is in platinum of palladium with real gemstones, femme faces and a jeweler’s signature F DuBois.

Any new book on vintage collecting is an event, but Laura’s book goes beyond this to become a true cause for celebration. The page on value definitions is quite timeless – giving reasons for collecting rather than dollar values.

Our IPBA club member has a real best seller here and it is a recommended addition to any vintage collector’s library.

Reviewed by Helen Farnsworth.

International Perfume Bottle Association
Incorporated in Illinois, USA

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