Collecting luxurious vanity antiques from a century ago is a little addicting.

One piece is beautiful, but when displayed together, these tokens of femininity really make a statement.

They can be displayed on your French vanity, like mine are at home. But these days we are not bound by the same rules as our great-great grandmothers, a collection of boudoir vanity boxes, for instance, looks stunning when displayed on a mirrored tray in your living room.


Here are a few tips for collectors that I shared with the readers of Victorian Homes Magazine, and of course, I’d love to share them with all of you.


1. LOOK FOR HALLMARKS.  If you are collecting pieces with sterling silver tops, or silver mirrors and brushes, look for the hallmarks. Almost all sterling will be marked Sterling, or have the lion passant, the mark for sterling. You can find sterling marks from other countries on the internet.

2. CHECK FOR CHIPS. Check all glass for chips, cracks and nicks.  Run your finger around the bottom, and the top. Open the jars and bottles to look for damage.

Remember these were often used daily, so you should not expect a like-new piece, a small little nick under the lid shouldn’t keep you from buying a piece.

3. BUY FROM A TRUSTED DEALER. Buy from someone you trust if you are not well-versed in identifying true antique pieces. If a piece looks in mint condition, “just like new,” be cautious.

While it is possible to find a piece over 100 years old without damage, it should not look new.

Anything silver should have patina, pieces covered with gilt should have a slight darkening and not be too bright and shiny.

4. CHECK FOR PARTS. When collecting antique perfume bottles, check the dauber, if there is one. A long glass wand that fits inside the top and used for applying perfume, this should be intact.

Not all antique perfume bottles had these, but if you find a bottle with one, it’s a bonus!

5. BUY THE BEST YOU CAN AFFORD. Expect to pay for top, luxury quality, it’s better to buy one stellar piece and build your collection piece by heirloom piece. Buy the best you can afford.

Sterling silver pieces will always be much more costly than silver plate, expect to pay between $400.- $600. for an ornate, heavy sterling mirror, $100. – $300. for a silver plate one of a desired design.  Powder jars can range between $200. – $800., again depending on the size, desirability and condition.


Don’t forget FrenchGardenHouse is having a huge SUMMER SALE! Many of the exceptional pieces featured in this article are still available. {ended}

Be sure not to miss it {we don’t have many sales} – SHOP AWAY!