Evans

Compact jackpot.

On Friday, my friend Amy emailed me a photo of a compact/vanity set she saw while out poking about at Antiques on Elm.

Amy thought I'd like this. (photo by Amy Janine Coleman)

Amy thought I’d like this. (photo by Amy Janine Coleman)

BEAUTIFUL. It’s a Shari Langlois set…originally it held powder, rouge, lipstick, and perfume, and there was a glass lid in matching pink Depression glass that would have covered the whole thing. While this set is missing the perfume and the lid, I still had to have it – the details on the powder and rouge compacts are simply stunning.

On the bottom of both compacts, you can read the Langlois New York hallmark.

On the bottom of both compacts, you can read the Langlois New York hallmark in an elegant script.

Lately I’m on a crown kick. How could I pass up this bejeweled beauty?

While exploring Antiques on Elm, a shop I’d never visited before, I found two more treasures that simply had to come home with me: a Girey compact with its original box and an Evans carryall that will be perfect for Easter.

In a recent post highlighting my Evans collection, I lamented that my carryall is missing its lipstick. Well, this one isn’t! Everything in this carryall is intact…the comb, lipstick holder, and powder puff are all accounted for. And while I’ll admit that I’m typically not a fan of pastels, this piece feels Eastery to me. It will work nicely with my blue Heart of Haute Milan dress.

So pretty and springy!

So pretty and springy!

I rationalized treating myself with these nice finds as a “congrats on your new job” celebration. Not that I need much of an excuse to buy compacts.

 

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Compact makers: The Elegance of Evans

As I mentioned before, the Evans Case Company made some of the compacts I love the most… as well as this wonderful handbag my mother-in-law scored for me:

Handbag, lipstick tube, change purse, and comb.

Handbag, lipstick tube, change purse, and comb.

I’m surprised that I haven’t blogged much about Evans before now. Based in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, Evans operated from 1922-1960, producing lighters, cigarette cases, compacts, vanity cases, handbags, and men’s accessories such as tie clips and cufflinks. With the tagline “Evans is elegance,” the company lured in women looking for something a bit more glamorous than the commonplace drug store powder compact.

From "The Evans Book" by Larry Clayton. Copyright 1998 Larry Clayton.

From “The Evans Book” by Larry Clayton. Copyright 1998 Larry Clayton.

Evans manufactured beautifully matched sets: each carryall came with a matching lipstick holder; handbags included a variety of accessories, such as a lipstick holder, mirror, comb, powder box, cigarette case and lighter.

I wish I owned more Evans pieces–for whatever reason, I’ve found more Elgin American and Volupte in my travels. The few Evans pieces I do have, however, offer a good representation of what the company produced…including some packaging.

The carryall I own is pictured in this ad from The Evans Book – I love the multi-colored metal waves. A small detail that really gives the piece more depth and complexity.

The waves have subtle color variations, alternating between a bright gold and a rosy tone.

The waves have subtle color variations, alternating between a bright gold and a rosy tone.

My carryall is missing the lipstick holder. Someday, I'll find one.

My carryall is missing the lipstick holder. Someday, I’ll find one.

I also have a lovely smoking set with compact…although, like the carryall, mine is flawed. When I purchased the set online, the mirror in the compact was intact. Unfortunately, the shipper didn’t pack it well and by the time it arrived, the mirror had broken. I was crushed. And since the mirror is framed into the case, I can’t replace it on my own. I keep looking for a matching compact so I can have the full set. I love the herringbone pattern.

Compact, cigarette case, and lighter.

Compact, cigarette case, and lighter.

I have a beautiful Evans compact – with the mirror intact. And the original packaging…it’s fun to see the advertising for other Evans products. The back of the little brochure says, “Makers of automatic lighters for more than 20 years.” Since Evans started making lighters in 1928, that probably puts the compact’s manufacture date at  1949 or 1950.

The compact and literature.

The compact and literature.

The inside has never been used.

The unused puff, with the Evans label.

The unused puff, with the Evans label.

My last Evans piece is another handbag. This one didn’t have any of the original accoutrements with it, but I can always just use my other Evans pieces to fill it, if I want to be a stickler. I found this bag at Treasures Antiques in Amherst. Their website is terrible–the shop is much better in person!

I think I paid just $12 for this.

I think I paid just $12 for this.

An ad for bags like mine...with a similar clasp, but different shapes. The set that came with the top bag looks like the one I shared pictures of.

An ad for bags like mine…with a similar clasp, but different shapes. The set that came with the top bag looks like the one I shared pictures of above.

According to The Evans Book, the company stopped making handbags in 1955, when the wife of owner Alfred Reilly attempted to take over the handbag division and the women who had been managing it quit. I always think it’s interesting to learn how personality conflicts and political activity have a far-reaching impact on manufacturing, finance, and the like. Anyway, the company went on making lighters and compacts for another five years, until 1960.

You can learn more about Evans on the blog Collecting Vintage Compacts in a series of remarkably well-researched posts full of great photos.

An incredible Evans find

My mother-in-law is starting to understand my taste.

That’s very cool for a variety of reasons. Mostly because it means I’m important to her and she wants to choose gifts I like. But it’s also awesome because she volunteers with her church, which holds rummage sales as fundraisers.

She gets to see the rummage before it goes on sale.

When she saw this bag, she thought of me.

Gorgeous vintage clutch

Gorgeous vintage clutch

Another angle...

Another angle…

She called and tried to describe it over the phone, but I’m extremely visual and had trouble picturing the bag she was talking about. What I did get: It was old and had an interesting closure. She offered the people running the sale $10. They gave it to her for $4. She did some research when she got home and felt guilty that they gave it her for so little. Then I started feeling better, because it meant I would feel less guilty if I didn’t like it.

The elegant Evans emblem, hidden inside the purse.

The elegant Evans emblem, hidden inside the purse.

Then she told me it was an Evans. The odds that I wouldn’t like it plummeted. Evans made some of the compacts I love most…their styling and craftsmanship captivate me. Even their logo is striking.

My mother-in-law cautioned me that the interior of the bag had some holes in the cloth lining, and there were two small dings in the leather on the front. To a certain extent, things like that make me feel like it’s OK to actually USE my vintage items – I’m not putting an intact collectible at risk of losing its value, I’m simply continuing to make use of an item that already has a bit of wear and tear.

Yes, the interior shows signs of age. But I'm the only one who will see that.

Yes, the interior shows signs of age. But I’m the only one who will see that.

Inside pockets for lipstick and a compact.

Inside pockets for lipstick and a compact.

While the compact that probably came with the bag originally didn’t make it to the rummage sale, there were still some goodies inside:

Even more treasures inside: lipstick tube, change purse, and comb.

Even more treasures inside: lipstick tube, change purse, and comb.

 

Bow and basket weave clasp

Bow and basket weave clasp

The lipstick holder has the same basket weave as the bag’s clasp. It’s obviously never been used. So cool. And I love the blue jewel at the tip. I’m not certain of this set’s age, but I’m looking forward to doing some research to see what I can find.