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Vanity boxes were first invented during the 18th century, and were designed for transporting toiletry items while travelling. The earliest incarnations of the vanity box were actually known as dressing cases and were primarily designed for men to use when going to war or university. It wasn’t until the start of the 1800s that vanity cases were introduced for women as they started travelling further afield to visit friends and relatives. Whether you want a vintage vanity case to help you travel in style or, more likely, you’d love to add a little heritage glamour to your bedroom or bathroom with an ornamental vanity case, browse our collection today.
Why choose vintage vanity casesJust like the modern equivalent, vintage vanity cases hold mirrors, combs, brushes, perfumes and manicure sets, as well as concealed jewellery trays in some cases. Back in the 1920s women were becoming more independent than ever before and vanity cases became widespread as a solution for carrying around cosmetic essentials.
Vintage vanity cases typically come in two forms. Some take the shape of a wooden box which contains neat compartments in which items were stored away. These handy boxes are still the ideal solution for carrying items everywhere you need to go.
More recent items, especially those from the second half of the 20th century, take the shape of a smaller than average suitcase, usually with a beautiful satin lining in a pretty colour. There are usually elasticated pockets for storing items, and some also have integrated mirrors in their lids.
Their shape may be box-like or with a curving shape. While some vintage vanity cases from the earlier years of the 20th century are made from wood, those from a later period are usually made from leather or metal and look similar to a small suitcase.
Wood boxes often have a range of attractive detailing. While some have simple, minimalist lines, others are highly ornate with precious stones, lacquer, mother of pearl, tortoiseshell and onyx detailing. Both leather and wooden vanity cases have locks to keep the contents safe while travelling.
Incorporating vintage vanity cases in your homeWhile it is still possible to utilise your vintage vanity case for trips away and overnight stays, more frequently owners prefer to keep their prized case at home. If you are fortunate enough to have a vintage dressing table in your bedroom a vintage vanity case is the perfect addition to finish this look. Not only will it help you to organise your belongings; it will also add to the look of the space rather than making it look cluttered and untidy.
Although you could buy something similar in shape and style to a vintage vanity case in a modern store, these contemporary versions simply lack the character and authenticity of an original piece.