Vintage Vanity Sets: A Look at an Elegant Essentials

Updated March 16, 2021
Vintage vanity sets

A vintage vanity set is sure to elevate anyone's beautification routine with its intricately detailed designs and carefully organized pieces. Once considered to be an essential element of a woman's boudoir, people have begun to show a renewed interest in collecting these delicate and functional vanity sets. Here you can explore what types of sets you can purchase, the types of tools included in them, and how much damage they're going to do to your bank account.

Vanity Sets of Yesteryear

Vanity sets were the original make-up organizers; manufactured from the Victorian period through the mid-20th century, these sets may have changed in style and materials, but never in their function of helping women prepare for the day. Since these sets were meant to help make women's beauty routines more efficient, they came with a variety of different tools, even growing to encompass more than fifteen or twenty items. Here are a few of these common beauty aids that were included in vintage vanity sets.

  • Organizing tray
  • Hair receiver
  • Hairbrush
  • Hand mirror
  • Comb
  • Perfume Atomizer
  • Manicure set
  • Powder puff
  • Pin box
  • Shoehorn
  • Button hook

Identifying Vintage Vanity Sets

Vintage vanity sets may come in a myriad of colors, sizes, and styles, but they all generally share a similar appearance. Sometimes, you'll come across sets with travel bags instead of conventional trays as they were designed to be easily portable for long-term vacations or weekends away from home. However, one of the greatest opportunities of having such variety is the ability to find a vintage set that really connects to your personal sense of style and design.

Vintage Mirror and Hairbrushes on Dresser

Materials Used to Make Vintage Vanity Sets

Vintage vanity sets were crafted out of various materials, ranging from the inexpensive to the luxurious. Oftentimes, these materials were painted on, etched into, and even monogrammed to make them unique to the individuals buying them. Here are some of the types of materials that you may encounter in your hunt for the perfect vintage vanity set.

  • Silver
  • Bakelite
  • Tortoise shell
  • Enamel
  • Ivory
  • Porcelain
  • Depression glass
  • Pewter
  • Celluloid
  • Brass
  • Plastic
  • Crystal
High Angle View Of Objects On Table

Significant Vintage Vanity Set Manufacturers

Given how profitable the beauty industry is, it only makes sense that there would be a vast number of different historic vanity set manufacturers. These are just a small representation of the many different vintage vanity set makers that you might encounter:

  • Royal Worcester
  • Crown Devon
  • Haviland
  • Cambridge
  • Fostoria
  • Heisey
  • Jeanette
  • DuPont
  • New Martinsville
  • Tiffany & Company

Vintage Vanity Set Values

Artifacts relating to the historic beauty industry are highly collectible, particularly because they often require little care to return them to their original condition. On average, these vintage vanity sets are worth between $50-$200. Of course, specialty sets, incredibly large vanity sets, and ones made out of expensive materials can be worth more than this range. For example, this 1940s 6-piece enamel vanity set is listed by one seller for almost $150. Similarly, plainer designed sets are going to worth far less than ornately decorated ones, such as with this eleven-piece celluloid vanity set from the 1930s which is only listed for a little over $50.

Silver Hairbrush and mirror

Collect Vintage Vanity Sets

One of the tricky things about collecting vintage vanity sets in the virtual world is actually locating ones that're for sale. Generally, auction websites are more likely to have vintage vanity tables available than they are vanity sets; individual seller-based websites like Etsy and ebay are great options to find vintage vanity sets for sale, but you're ultimately at the mercy of what's available. So, if you're really interested in adding to your growing beauty collection or want to find that first great piece, it's important to start going to nearby antique stores as these places often have vanity sets in their inventory, and hunting through stacks of hidden treasures is half the fun of collecting. Don't be dissuaded by the dirt and grime that you might find encrusted into these old vanity sets - they can't help that they were well-used and loved. Just be sure to find material-sensitive cleaners to soak and wash your items with to help make them sparkle and shine again.

Senior woman sitting at vanity set, trying on necklace

Modern Beauty Meets Vintage Style

As social media becomes an ever-more present feature of people's lives, finding inexpensive ways to customize your living space, so it's camera ready is a must. The variety of colors, sizes, designs, and patterns represented across vintage vanity sets is a simple way for you to bring this hint of personality to your 'getting ready' spaces.

Vintage Vanity Sets: A Look at an Elegant Essentials