langlois compacts

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.


Cara Nome

Compact makers: Cara Nome

I have a collecting/reselling dilemma. While I collect compacts, I also resell them. When shopping for inventory, I usually have a pretty good idea of which pieces are for resale and which are for my own enjoyment. But sometimes, I change my mind. I’ll receive something in the mail and like it more than I expected. Other times, I’ll realize something complements a piece I already own, which increases the breadth and depth of my collection. Though I don’t place a huge emphasis on value, I realize that packaging and complementary information that place a piece in context can make items more collectible and valuable.

Cara Nome

Cara Nome compacts and vanity case

I purchased the Cara Nome case at the bottom of the photo intending to put it up for sale. Then I found a vanity case with the same motif. And then I stumbled across a matching powder compact. Even when I had just two pieces, I started waffling. Sell one and keep the other? Which should I keep? While I like compacts and vanity cases best, I also like other vintage cosmetic acessories and don’t have much in the way of eye makeup or lipstick holders. That would add breadth to my collection. But when I found the powder compact, I started questioning the wisdom of selling any of the three. They just look like they belong together.

Cara Nome began as a fragrance introduced by United Drug Company in 1918. There were several different United Drug Companies–one in New York and New Jersey and another in Boston, which aquired the New York/New Jersey company in 1916 (It’s amazing what you can find in old financial reports like Moody’s Analyses of Investments). United Drug manufactured drugs and cosmetics to sell in franchised stores operating under the Rexall banner. 

By Langlois

Hallmark "By Langlois" on the vanity case rouge compartment

While owned by Rexall, Cara Nome was also associated with Langlois of Boston, a name that appears on many Cara Nome compacts. Shari and Duska also belonged to Langlois, according to research by Nicole Soren for the show “The Art of Allure: Powder Compacts and Vanities of the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries” at the University of Arizona Art Museum. Check out the compacts in the show here: On auction sites, many sellers erroneously list the name as “Langlors.”

Cara Nome vanity case with spiderweb decoration

After starting research for this post, I remembered two other Cara Nome compacts in my collection. An ad reminded me of the spiderweb vanity case pictured here. this is a larger case, and again, bears both the Cara Nome logo and label on the signed puff and the Langlois name engraved into the lid to the powder well. The other piece is a vivid red plastic vanity case including rouge and lipstick: one of the few non-metal items in my collection.

Cara Nome vanity case

Kwin-N-Devilish lipstick and rouge

Cara Nome made a number of perfumes and powders as well, available at Rexall. This was clearly a drugstore brand, most likely more accessible to the everyday woman than some of the compacts made by contemporaries such as Elgin, Evans and Volupte. Despite this difference in price point, many of the Cara Nome cases still show attention to detail and careful styling. In fact, after evaluating these compacts for this blog post, my mind is made up–they belong in my collection. But have no fear–as I encounter more of these pieces, I’ll share the wealth. You’ll definitely see Cara Nome compacts and vanity cases for sale on in the coming months.