Kigu Powder Compacts, History & Heritage

Kigu Powder Compacts, History & Heritage

An illustrated guide and history of the Kigu brand, which is being added to on a regular basis throughout the year. The name Kigu originates from the first two letters of the surname and forename of its founder, Gustav Kiaschek. Gustav was of Hungarian origin. He was the son of the master goldsmith, Josef Kiaschek.   
                                                             
Gustav crafted high quality powder compacts from his workshop in Budapest. 
He raised three sons, Charles, Paul and George. Charles became a New York based goldsmith. George moved to London in 1939 where he founded Kigu of London.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
After WWII Paul joined George. In 1977 on George’s passing, his son, David, joined the family firm after completing his university education. He worked in every department learning all aspects of the business and earning the respect of his employees.                                                                                                                                     
Kigu Ltd. were manufacturers of jewellery, accessories and vanities. 
The pride of producing high quality wares is shown in the wide variety of styles and exquisitely ornamented luxury goods. 
                    
HRH Prince Philip gifted Kigu brand powder compacts to HM Queen Elizabeth's bridesmaids.                                                                                                                                                                           
Kigu powder compacts are famed throughout the world for their beauty & durability. Back in the day Kigu and Stratton brand accessories were given as gifts on special occasions. For example a young lady's twenty first birthday or as a wedding or wedding anniversary gift.                                                                                                                                  
Kigu and Stratton powder compacts were considered to be expensive gifts that were costly to produce. They were crafted by artisans with a high level of skill. Essentially they are considered to be an item of jewellery, as well as a practical accessory. In the days when ladies powdered their noses, almost every handbag would contain a powder compact.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Kigu Ltd. included the tagline shown below in their marketing material and on their trade stands -                                                                                                   
Compacts of Character
For Women of Discernment
                                                                                                                                 
Now we have set the scene to show you just how special these accessories are, we hope that you will enjoy browsing our histories and collection.
                                                                                                                               
                                                  
                       
                                 
Kigu Ltd. were the only specialist vanities manufacturer who produced a line of sterling silver powder compacts and powder boxes. The rarest of these are the musical powder boxes which were a strictly limited edition. They were scarce at the time of production and extremely rare in the twenty-first century.
                                                                                                                                 
The Kigu tagline the goldsmith’s tradition is evident in the high quality engraved decorations that feature in their precious and non-precious metal accessories. The high level of skill was reflected in the great variety of engraving styles.

Kigu Ltd. describe the design shown above as -

The combination of two engine turned designs - fine spots evenly dispersed and the elegant “barley” border--is most appropriate. Subdued elegance and classical simplicity displayed to perfection by the quality of jeweller’s finish.

 

STERLING SILVER KIGU CHERIE SHANTUNG POWDER COMPACT 
                               
                                      
This hallmarked silver heart shaped Kigu Cherie was assayed at London in 1942. The lid is decorated with two love birds immaculately presented on a tree branch.                                                                                                                     
In the Kigu catalogue this style of engraving is referred to as - 
                                                                                                                                
shantung......which brings to mind the delicate shimmer of silk.
                                                                                                                                 
The engraving does resemble the silk which was historically made in the province of Shandong. The irregular textures of the silk shimmer in the light. This type of material is often used for bridal gowns & the silversmiths at Kigu captured the essence of this fabric in sterling silver.
                                                                                                                                 
The Cherie range of compacts were especially made as tokens of love by Kigu. The name means dear in French and the compact is shaped like a heart.
                                                                                                                                 
The tag line in Kigu catalogues for this model of compact was - 
                                                                                                                                            
For your chosen one, a "Cherie" heart shape!
Another sterling silver compact embellished with the shantung design is shown above. This convertible makeup compact has a diamond cut star motif and a diamond cut border. 
                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                 
The sterling silver compact shown above is part of the Kigu Mini range which the makers described as -                                                                                             
 The smallest round Kigu compact ideally suited to the teenager.
                                                                                                                                 
The Minis measure 6.2 cm diameter and so they are ideal as pocket or purse mirrors.
                                                                                                                                 
 
 
                                                                                                                                 
Another decorative technique this firm was famed for is the bark pattern.
                                                                                                                                 
Kigu Ltd. described the decoration as -
                                                                                                                                
This design shows the contemporary craftsmanship at its best - a simple "bark" pattern beautifully executed in glittering jeweller's finish reflecting the light in rippling playfulness.  
 
                                                                                                                                 
The Kigu Mayfair powder compact shown above is also decorated with the bark effect technique for which Kigu Ltd are famed. The makers also referred to this superb finish as Bark motif or Bark pattern. This is a remarkably durable finish which retains its beauty, like the bark of a silver tree. 
 
This is one of the most elusive Kigu brand powder compacts. 

An adorable and rare silver and gold tone Kigu world globe powder compact which has only one known year of availability - 1960. This model is the rarest of all the Kigu brand globe compacts, as it is the only one with a single known year of availability listed.

Kigu Ltd. described the compact as:

83-56 GSP Globe, 2-tone Satin Silver with Gold Map of World 1960

The compact is in good condition and presented with the signed puff and sifter. This lovely novelty powder compact is so much more beautiful than the images show. The spherical design would reflect the surroundings and so we have taken shots after blocking out the studio lights. As a consequence you can not see the truly lovely gleaming golden land masses and satin silver finish of the seas and oceans. The countries are finely engraved and adorned with gleaming gold enamel.  

The mirror gives a good and accurate reflection.  The powder well is signed Kigu. Measures 5.5 cm diameter x 5.5 cm tall. Weighs 63 grams.

                                                                                                                                 
1949 KIGU LTD BRITISH INDUSTIES FAIR ADVERTISEMENT
                                            
 

The compact seen in the image above is probably the largest vanity Kigu Ltd. produced. It is a rare occurrence to find this model in an unused condition with all the original accessories. This Kigu Flapjack was listed in the 1952 Kigu catalogue. It is from the Margaret Flapjack Series (135). It is presented in the original box with the original felt pouch, puff and sifter. This splendid vanity is very large. It measures almost 4 inches diameter.

The makers describe this compact as:- 

...fluted and scalloped metal compact lustrous gold finish. 

Spill proof INNER LID with sifter, puff and pochette.  

The compact is absolutely stunning. The makers lacquered this compact and so it will never tarnish or need to be cleaned.

The presentation box is decorated with luxurious pearlized paper stamped with the triangular Kigu trademark. The item code 135 is written on the side of the box. 

VIEW THIS KIGU MARGARET LOOSE POWDER COMPACT

This is another splendid unused early 1950s Kigu Margaret powder compact which is suitable for loose foundation. This magnificent vanity measures 4 inches diameter, making it one of the largest Kigu brand compacts. Both of the Kigu Margaret compacts shown here are featured in the 1952 Kigu catalogue.

The original beige felt pouch, luxurious signed puff and sifter are present. 

                                                                                                                                 
As well as manufacturing a sterling silver line of vanities this maker also crafted compacts with a chromium finish.  The lovely mid-century compact shown above is unused. It is ideal for loose foundation. The compact is presented with all the original features - box, sifter, luxurious felt lined pouch and signed puff. The lid is decorated with ornate engine turned designs and an oblong cartouche.
                                                                                                                                 
Kigu Ltd. describe the compact as - 
                                                                                                                                
Square silver metal compact in highly polished non-tarnishing chromium finish. Precision detailed engine turned pattern. Floral edge. Barley corn with initial panel. Measures 7 cm x 7 cm and weighs 97.4 grams.  
                                                                                                                                 
This Kigu compact is shown with the original pouch, puff, sifter and leaflet. The lid is hand painted and so it could be said that each of these designs may differ slightly. The instantly recognisable Kigu compact adorned with theatrical masks is highly collectible. The lid is also embellished with a gilt and red border, floral motifs and fans.  
                                                                                                                                 
A little square card announces - 
GUARANTEED HANDPAINTED. 
                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                 

A rare and adorable vintage Kigu musical powder box with a marcasite ballerina set atop. This lovely vanity features in just one Kigu catalogue (1960). All the marcasite (pyrite) stones are present and soundly set. The lid is also decorated with golden enamel on guilloche engraving. The original presentation box, pouch, puff, sifter and instruction leaflet are present.

The tune plays beautifully well. The catches and hinges work perfectly. The whole music box is finished in the famed Kigu jeweller's gilt finish and so it will not tarnish or need to be cleaned. Very good condition. The interior case is embellished with complex guilloche engraving. The inner lid bears the Kigu trademark in an oval cartouche, as does the base. Above the winding key "Minuette" in inscribed in an elegant font. The mirror gives a good and accurate reflection. Measures 8.5 cm wide. Weighs 124.8 grams.

Kigu Ltd. described this model as:

"Minuette" Series fitted with excellent Swiss movements.

Great variety of Tunes. 

73-92 Musical "Minuette" Compact. Gilt E.T.* pattern with assorted Jewel mounts. 

Engine Turned.


 

A hard to find and truly stunning Kigu Leaping Deer vanity set comprising of an  unused cigarette case, unused lipstick holder / mirror and a matching loose powder compact in the original luxon clad case. The finish on this delightful set is Kigu Ltd. at its best....gorgeous....the famous Kigu all gilt jeweller's finish.

Kigu Ltd. described the set as follows -

The graceful leaping deer, in shining jeweller's gilt against the engine turned "shantung" background is a delight to the eye. A lively and graceful design.  

.....made of highly polished gilding metal, protected with an invisible film of enamel which preserves their jewel-like lustre even under extreme climatic conditions. 

This matching set is from the Kigu Dolphin line. 

The lovely unused cigarette case is known as the Kigu Dolphin 96 Series (96-717). It was made for standard size cigarettes, which were smaller than those available today. Cigarettes measuring 73 mm long or less will fit in this case. The interior case is gilded. Measures 7.6 cm long and weighs 51.6 grams.

The unused lipstick holder / mirror was named the Flippy by the makers. It is also in  excellent condition. The base of the lipstick holder is signed Kigu England. The mirror gives a good reflection - a few marks on the mirror but nothing which detracts from this adorable set.  Measures just under 6 cm and weighs 25 grams.                                                                                                  

The Kigu Dolphin 26 Series (26-31) compact is also in super condition - clean and gorgeous. This bolster shaped vanity was made for loose face powder. The original puff and sifter are present. The inner lid has the most beautiful honeycomb guilloche design. An oval cartouche contains the triangular Kigu registered trademark. The underside of the inner lid is satinized and the whole set has a luxurious appearance.

VIEW THIS LATE 1950S KIGU VANITY SET

A gorgeous unused vintage Kigu vanity set! This charming set is presented in the original luxon clad case which is decorated with a Kigu Ltd. patented pattern mottling finish which gives the faux leather the appearance of real leather. Such attention to detail! The contents of the case are even more delightful. A matching loose foundation compact and lipstick holder mirror rest on custom made recesses clad in crimson velvet. The interior lid of the case is lined with champagne coloured satin which has KIGU OF LONDON printed in gilt lettering. 

The maker described the compact as:

52-717. - Round Compact 3".

GILT E.T. Shantung pattern and engraved design.

Both items are decorated with the well known Kigu shantung and leaping deer design.

MOTTLED LUXON CASE

The set is presented in the original metal case which is clad in a material that Kigu Ltd. described as luxon. Luxon was invented as a synthetic leather substitute. Whether or not George Kiashek invented luxon we do not know. But he was a prolific inventor. 

You might be surprised to know that George invented a machine which was used to apply a finish to the faux leather to give a more natural appearance. If you look closely at the exterior case it is possible to see a subtle mottled effect on the luxon. On October 9 1958 George applied to patent his invention. 

A brief description of his invention follows:

An Automatic Pattern Mottling Finishing Machine for Cigarette, Cosmetic, and other Cases, Plates, or the Like

 We, GEORGE, KIASHEK, a British subject, and KIGU LIMITED, a British Company, whose registered offices are at Waldo Works, Waldo Road, London, N.W.10, do hereby declare the invention, for which we pray that a patent may be granted to us, and the method by which it is to be performed, to be particularly described in and by the following statement:-

This invention has for its object to provide an automatic pattern mottling finishing machine for such articles as cigarette, cosmetic and other cases, boxes, plates or the like.

According to this invention, there is provided an automatic pattern mottling finishing machine in which two intermittent driven synchronised conveyors are arranged to pass lengthwise across the machine table one for holding the components to be mottled, and the other for holding the templates or copies of the form to be mottled, a series of constant running spindles are vertically mounted above, and across the conveyor carrying the component and arranged in an echelon, or ladder formation, and a chuck for holding the mottling sticks of abrasive bonded material is mounted on the end of each spindle, the effective operation of the said spindles being controlled by the templates.

                                                                                                                                 
The Kigu vanity set shown above is presented in the original luxon covered case. The makers used cream coloured imitation leather to clad the exterior.  The interior is lined with silk and velvet. The set comprises of one Dolphin 26 Series (26-815) loose powder compact, one Dolphin 96 Series (96-815) cigarette case, a comb with a comb holder and lipstick holder. Each item is decorated with what the makers called the Catherine-wheel design.
                                                                                                                                 
An absolutely gorgeous mid-century loose powder compact which has never been used. The compact is in superb condition and is presented with all the original features - box, sifter, luxurious felt lined pouch and signed puff. The whole item has the most beautifully gilded brass. Ornate engine turned designs and an oval cartouche set this accessory apart as a most pleasing vanity. 
                                                                                                                                 
Kigu Ltd. describe the compact as - 
                                                                                                                    
Square gilding metal compact in highly polished non-tarnishing gold finish.
Precision detailed engine turned pattern.
Floral edge.
Barley corn with initial panel.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
 
                                                                                                                                 
Kigu Ltd. are also famed for their novelty powder compacts. In terms of vanities the word novelty refers to a compact or powder box that has the appearance of another item. For example a powder compact that looks like a basket or even a football. So adorable!
The 1950s novelty Kigu powder compact shown above is adorned with high quality mother of pearl & abalone. This luxurious compact has a lid made to resemble a football (soccer ball). The compact is a super collector's piece. It has never been used and it is presented with all the original accessories - box, felt pouch, puff & sifter. A fabulous addition to any collection or special gift for her. The powder well lid & base are decorated with intricate engine turned designs. The inner lid has a central oval cartouche engraved with the triangular Kigu trademark. Measures 21/2 inches diameter & weighs 60.7 grams. 
 
A DELIGHTFUL ARRAY OF KIGU VANITIES 
                                                                                                                                 
The image above shows a Kigu Ltd. advertisement which was featured in the 1953 British Industries Fair catalogue. The Bouquet (Figs. 523 MJ & 527) and the Locket Compact (Fig. 363) are prominently displayed in this ad. Fig. 215 is the Kigu Oxford. Fig. 343 MJ is the Kigu Cherie adorned with black enamel and a marcasite encrusted heart.
This maker also crafted a line aimed at the teenage market. For some reason these were much smaller than standard size Kigu compacts.
Such a pretty compact mirror! This unused vintage compact was created as part of the Kigu Ltd. line aimed at the teenage market. The lid is embellished with a gilt satinized finish which is decorated with pale peach roses with green and silver foliage. There isn't any loss of design or fading. The interior case and base have beautiful and complex engine turned designs. The inner lid is stamped with the Kigu trademark. 
   
                       
                         
A 63-type novelty basket loose powder compact with graceful handle. The whole piece is decorated with engine turned engravings. The main body of the basket has engraving which resembles the basket weave design. The lid has a circular cartouche which the makers named the initial medallion, as it would often be engraved with the recipient's initial/s. The carry handle is also engraved with a pattern that would be seen on the handle of a wicker basket. Such attention to detail! The interior case contains a mirror as well as the signed puff and sifter. The original black drawstring pouch has the appearance of watered silk.
                                                                                                                                 
The interior case bears the triangular registered Kigu trademark. It is also  signed Bouquet REG. DES. The makers were aware that ladies have better things to do with their time than polish brass and so this item was coated with a layer of transparent enamel as one of the final stages in the manufacturing process. This prevents oxidation and so it will never tarnish as long as the enamel is not removed.
                                                                                                                                 
The practise of applying clear enamel or lacquer to brass vanities and accessories was standard for manufacturers of high quality goods. The presence of these protective coats ensures that accessories that were made a very long time ago retain their pre-possessing appearances many decades later without any need for cleaning or maintenance.
                                                                                                                                 
A vintage Kigu Basket Bouquet powder compact in the original presentation box. This is a highly desirable basket shaped loose powder compact which was made in the 1950s. There are only two known years of availability 1956 and 1957. At that time this adorable little vanity retailed for 31/6.
                                                                                                                                 
The 1957 Kigu catalogue details this model as -
                                                                                                                                 
BOUQUET Compacts (63 Type) w/graceful handle Engine Turned pattern with Fashion Jewel Mount. 
                                                                                                                                 
As you can see the compact is set with a faux pearl surrounded by silver tone flowers. Each one of the silver flowers has a tiny faux gem in the middle. We are so happy to find this charming vanity in the original box, with the original drawstring pouch, puff and sifter. Even the box is in super condition. Such a gorgeous little basket compact with a movable handle. The compact is protected by the Kigu jeweller's gilt finish which means it will not tarnish or need to be cleaned. The powder well is stamped BOUQUET and also with the Kigu registered trademark.  Measures almost 2 1/4" and weighs 57.9 grams.                 
                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                 
Kigu Ltd. are especially well known for their enchanting Lucite vanities. As you can see from the images above and below they are adorable!
In their 1968 catalogue Kigu described the delightful Lucite compact above as - 
                                                                     
17-762 Crinoline
Colourful design of crinoline lady in three dimensional effect.
 

This is the most enchanting Lucite adornment - a lady in a pink bonnet and an emerald green hooped skirt with lucky shamrocks framing the scene which sits within a gilt engine turned frame. The base has a guilloche engraved design. This particular guilloche pattern is typical for the Kigu brand. 

This compact is ideal for use with pressed foundation as well as loose face powder. It is known as a convertible compact and it is fitted with the patented Kigu washable sifter.

The washable sifter was invented by George Kiashek. The patent was published on June 22 1966. 

 

PATENT 1033439A

PATENT DRAWINGS FOR THE KIGU WASHABLE SIFTER                     
                                                                                                                                 
An absolutely delightful rare unused 1950s Kigu Lucite loose powder compact in the original presentation box. The lid is decorated with an enchanting Lucite swan set atop golden tin foil which is decorated with ripples of water. Gold, pink and purple flowers frame the scene. The clear Lucite dome is framed by an  engraved border. The inner lid is decorated with honeycomb guilloche engraving and an oval cartouche which is signed KIGU. The base is decorated with a bold spiral. The original box, felt pouch, signed puff and sifter are all present. Measures 6.2 cm diameter. Weighs 58.2 grams. 
                                                                                                                                 
 
                                             
This time the shantung engraving was used to beautify silver plated brass. This  unused 1950s Kigu 78 Series Bolero Leaping Deer loose powder compact comes with the original presentation box, black felt pouch, signed puff, velour edged sifter and instruction leaflet, which reads -
                                                                                                                                 
To preserve the silver plating,
it is desirable always to carry the compact
in the black pochette supplied.
                                                                                                                                 

Kigu Ltd. described this item as -

These delightful leaping deer brought to life in lustrous bright gilt against a delicate shade of fine “shantung” and highly polished surround, present all the exclusive refinements and features of Kigu quality. 

This compact has the item code of 78-717.

                       
                                   
 GUILLOCHÉ ENGRAVED INNER LID 
 
The inner lid is adorned with complex guilloché engraving and it is signed KIGU. The maker used this type of engraving to embellish its products. These decorations also served a very practical purpose, as they prevented the appearance of fingerprints on items that would be handled often. The art of guilloché dates back to the 16th century.
                                                                                                                                 
By the middle of the 20th century guilloché engine turning had nearly disappeared as an industrial process and at the end of the 20th century, no original firms practicing it survived. It is only practised as an avocation by enthusiasts and very few dedicated professional practitioners. Today only the highest value luxury watches benefit from these engine turned designs.
                                                                                                                                 
Some of the most collectible Kigu vanities are those which are embellished with Lucite decorations. The one below is fashioned in the shape of a basket.
                                                                                                                                 
 
                                                                                                                                 
A delightful unused Perspex Kigu Lucite Bouquet basket shaped loose powder compact made in the 1950s.  This adorable functional little basket shaped compact mirror is in super condition. The lid contains a clear Lucite dome which protects pale pink reverse carved roses, cream and pink flowers and golden leaves form a gorgeous symmetrical composition all set atop tin foil.
                                                                                                                                 
Sometimes it is possible to find musical Kigu powder boxes with Lucite plaques. The one below has tiny Lucite clover leaves tied with a pink bow. 
                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                 

An adorable working 1950s Kigu Minuette music box which is fitted with a lovely Perspex (Lucite) shamrock decoration. The interior contains a good clear mirror and is decorated with a beautiful guilloche engraved design.

The inner case is signed KIGU and also Minuette. The base is also signed KIGU MADE IN ENGLAND REG.DES. The base has a lovely scalloped design. The whole musical powder box is protected by the Kigu jeweller's gilt finish which will prevent tarnishing and so this vanity will not require any cleaning. Measures 8.5 cm long. Weighs 129 grams.

Kigu Ltd. describe this lovely vanity as -

Musical Compacts "Minuette" Series

fitted with excellent Swiss movement

Great variety of tunes

73-763 Musical "Minuette" compact with coloured Perspex insert

in gilt E.T. (engine turned) pattern

1950S KIGU BOUQUET NOVELTY FLOWER BASKET COMPACT
 
                         
  
BOUQUET (63-TYPE) COMPACT FLORAL PERSPEX INSERT
   

In 1957 these Perspex / Lucite novelty powder compacts had a minimum retail price of 31/6.
Kigu Ltd. also manufactured loose powder compacts that looked like suitcases.
 
 

An adorable unused Kigu Bon Voyage suitcase powder compact which is the best example of this model we have seen. This gorgeous vintage accessory is presented in the original box with the original beige felt pouch, gorgeous and pristine signed pouch and sifter.

In their 1952 catalogue Kigu Ltd. describe this vanity as follows:- 

121 Novelty Travel Case. Highly polished gold colour, non-tarnish finish, oblong "Bon Voyage" Vanity case, precision detailed engraved Hogskin and Strap design. Spill-proof INNER LID, puff, sifter and pochette.

In 1956 the wholesale cost in 1956 was 13/- and the minimum retailer recommended price was 31/6. The compact has the most glorious deep golden patina throughout. The lid and base are engraved to look exactly like a leather suitcase. Even the handle is functional and serves as a catch. Tilt the handle back slightly to access the interior case where you will see a framed mirror which gives a good and accurate reflection. 

INTERIOR LID INSCRIBED BON VOYAGE
 
                               
The mirror bezel is engraved PATENTED MADE IN ENGLAND. The inner lid is engraved with a pretty little flower and Bon Voyage in elegant script. The Kigu triangular registered trademark is clearly visible. The Kigu registered sliding catch holds the inner lid closed perfectly. The powder well contains the original puff and sifter. The makers applied a layer of transparent enamel during the manufacturing process and so this item will retain its pleasing appearance and never need to be cleaned. Measures 8.5 cm x 6.8 cm. 
ORIGINAL ACCESSORIES
                                                                                                                                 
Kigu Ltd. had factories located at Waldo Road (Waldo Works), Trenmar Gardens and Harrow Road in London. The Harrow Road site was recently purchased by property developers who have demolished the building to make way for luxury apartments.                                                                                                              
It is understandable that George Kiashek decided to leave Hungary in 1938 to settle in Great Britain. George decided to anglicise his name somewhat by dropping the c.                                                                                                         
During WWII the Kigu factory premises and the skilled workers who had not signed up as soldiers were engaged in the manufacture of munitions. Machines used to make lipstick cases were adapted to make bullet casings.                         
After the war Kigu Ltd. and many other compact manufacturers faced shortages in raw materials, especially brass.  Aircraft alloy and Perspex (Lucite) were salvaged from fighter planes waiting to be scrapped and fashioned into powder compacts, accessories and costume jewellery.                                                       
                             
 
Kigu Ltd. exhibited at the British Industries Fair held at Olympia and Earls Court in May 1947.                                                                                                            
This is the firm’s listing in the programme:                                                                                                                                                                                                             
 ‘Kigu Ltd. of Waldo Works, Waldo Road, London, NW10. Telephone: Ladbroke 1042. Cables: "Kigu, Harles, London"
1947 British Industries Fair Advert as Manufacturers of Metal Powder Compacts, Vanity cases, Flapjacks**, Cigarette Cases and Fancy Artificial Jewellery, Necklaces, Bracelets, Metal Fittings for Hair Slides. (Fancy Goods Section - Olympia, 1st Floor, Stand No. F.1849’
                                                                                                                                 
In 1947 Paul Kiashek joined his brother George. Paul’s role was as a working director.                                                                                                                    
By the end of the 1940s Kigu Ltd. was back in full production of their own brand, as well as being engaged by Salo David Rand to create novelty powder compacts which would bear the Pygmalion brand name.                                        
The most well known of these are the basket and globe shaped compacts. 
The 'Globe' is included in a Pygmalion/Rand advertisement of February 1951, which was headlined 'Latest Pygmalion Creations'. Others in this series featured various patterns on their metal exteriors. An impressed map of the world makes this a sought-after vanity.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
In 1949 Kigu Ltd. manufactured a small number of sterling silver globe loose powder compacts for S. D. Rand.                                                                            
The interior powder wells of these novelty vanities is stamped -                                                                   
"PYGMALION" No 1960 MADE IN ENGLAND PATENT PENDING.
                                                                                                                                 
You would think that the makers would lodge the patent application, especially when we  know that Kigu would later go on to manufacture globes and baskets for their brand. These globes and baskets were often exactly the same exterior dimensions. Some of the globes with the impressed map of the world on their outer cases were identical mm to mm to the Pygmalion brand.                              
So who registered the patent was it Rand or Kigu Ltd?                                           
Rand had many inventions patented. Below is one of his many patent applications. 
                    
 
   S. D. Rand’s diagram showing a Perspex lid which is protecting a floral display.
                            
 
The patent application:
676,811. Powder compacts. RAND, S. D. Dec. 14,1950 [Jan. 13,1950], No. 949/50. Class 18 The lid of a powder compact comprises an upper transparent convex lamina 27 and a lower lamina 28 between which a decorative article, such as a sprig of artificial flowers 29 is mounted. A mirror 30 is fitted.
This is the same design of lid as the Kigu ‘Bouquet’ basket powder compact. The interior is slightly different as it also has an inner lid. Some of the Kigu globe compacts have inner lids and some do not. So we know that Rand patented the Perspex ‘transparent convex lamina’ which covers the artificial flowers. This patent does not show the base of the compact as it does not relate to the application.
                                                                                                                                 
George Kiashek lodged many patent applications in Great Britain and Germany. 
George was the inventor of the family. He  invented the very hygienic washable Kigu patented plastic sifter, show card stands and many other devices and improvements to powder compacts.                                                                        
On 15 April 1958 he made a patent application to the Patent Office in London for the Improvements in decorative mounts. This detailed improvements to the way initials are mounted into the lid of powder compacts.
                            
                   
  IMPROVEMENTS TO DECORATIVE MOUNTS 
                                                                                                                                 
A superb unused blue enamel Kigu Initial makeup compact which is displaying the initial S. This delightful convertible powder compact was crafted in the 1960s. The original presentation box, pouch, sifter and instruction leaflet are present. Measures 3 inches diameter and weighs 75.9 grams. The compact is suitable for use with loose face powder as well as standard sizes of pressed face powder. For example: Max Factor Creme Puff, Rimmel Stay Matte and CCUK. The brass was coated during the final process in its crafting. This protective coat will ensure that the brass will not tarnish or need to be cleaned. 
                                                                                                                                 
ORIGINAL INSTRUCTION LEAFLET
                                                                                                                                 
Paul, Charles and George were a superb combination of dedication and creativity. George was known as a man who showed great ingenuity. Paul passed away in 1976 and he was followed by George in 1977.                              
With George’s unexpected passing, his son, David, became the fourth generation of the Kiashek family to have become involved with the production of vanities and fancy goods. David was in his twenties and he decided that he would complete his degree in Mechanical Engineering at Hatfield Polytechnic and then he joined the firm full time.     
                                                                                                                                               
Many of the workers had known David since he was a baby and they were only too willing to help him learn the ropes. David worked in every department and attended courses on production and business management. David’s mother, Irene, also worked full time in the office at Kigu Ltd. after George’s passing.
When David was 24 years of age he became Managing Director of Kigu Ltd. At this time the three factories were staffed by approximatley 150 employees. 
                                                                                                                                 
In the early 1980s Kigu Ltd. was acquired by A. S. Brown & Co. (Manufacturing) Ltd. This company was the owner of the Mascot brand.
                                                                                                                                 
More beautiful examples of vintage Kigu powder compacts. 
                                                                                                                                               
The Kigu Karette was this brand's answer to the Stratton brand's self-opening inner lid.
This device was invented by George Kiashek. The patent was published on July 4 1956.

PATENT DRAWING FOR THE KIGU KARETTE MECHANISM

The drawing above shows the catch (17) which activates the spring (12) which in turn opens the inner lid by pressing on a lever (14).

PATENT 751972

PAUA SHELL KIGU KARETTE

A lovely 1950s Kigu Karette powder compact for Charlotte's Genius Magic Powder and all loose foundation powder. This vintage accessory is adorned with high quality paua shell which has a iridescence which is sure to delight.

This slender and elegant compact is ideal as a handbag mirror or a cherished collectible. It is fitted with an automatic opening inner lid, which works perfectly, as do all catches and hinges. 

The interior case is fitted with a good mirror which gives an accurate reflection. 

The interior is signed KIGU & KARETTE. The base is decorated with a stylish gilt crosshatch design.

The original puff is signed KIGU OF LONDON.

                                                                                                                                
1960S KIGU KARETTE - NOTE LEVER ON RIGHT
 
 
                            
 A splendid Lucite Kigu Karette compact mirror. This rather gorgeous compact was made in the 1960s. The Karette model is not at all common and to find one with a Lucite dome housing a wonderful reverse carved Lucite floral display is not something that often happens. Framed by an engine turned gilt border, the clear Lucite dome shields the most enchanting Lucite floral arrangement - a spray of bluebells at each corner and in the middle of this composition a pink rose and four tiny pink flowers each with mint green leaves! The exacting standards of Kigu Ltd. have ensured that this vanity is still as beautiful as it was in the 1960s. All the brass has the Kigu famed jeweller's gilt finish - a coat of lacquer applied by the maker, which ensures that the brass will not tarnish or need to be cleaned.
                                                                                                                                 
 
The Karette was described by the makers as -
                                                                                                                                 
2 1/2" Square "Karette" compact with "remote control" inner lid opening.
Gilt E.T. (engine turned) engraved design.
                                                                                                                                 
The all gilt interior features an automatic opening lid. A push button which is the distinguishing feature of the 'Karette' opens the powder well lid. The lid has a honeycomb guilloche engraved design and an oval cartouche which bears the Kigu triangular registered trademark. The compact was originally made for loose face powder. 
KIGU KARETTE
                                                                                                                                 
The base of the compact is decorated with an engine turned design of tiny diamond shapes. All surfaces of this expertly made vanity are rendered in such a way that they will never show fingerprints.  Measures 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" and weighs 81.7 grams.
The Kigu Concerto line of music boxes are adorned with some of the most colourful enamelled lid decorations.
                                                                                                                                 

A delightfully pretty Kigu Concerto which was made in the 1960-1970s. The satinized blue enamel lid has the most gorgeous marcasite (pyrite) ornament set atop. The compact is decorated with the famed Kigu all gilt jeweller's finish and so it will not tarnish or need to be cleaned.

VIEW THIS KIGU CONCERTO MUSICAL POWDER BOX

As you can see, the adorable Kigu Concerto musical box shown above is decorated with eye-catching cerise pink enamel set with what the makers named a jewel mount. This vanity dates to the 1970s. 

 
This enchanting 1950s Kigu Concerto musical powder box is also considered to be a novelty vanity. It has the most captivating guilloché engraved lid which changes appearance as it catches the light and the whole item gleams.
                                                                                                                                 
This item is described as -
                                                                                                                                 
  Kigu of London 73-274.
Engine turned pattern in basket weave in jeweller's gilt finish.
                                                                                                                                 
A scroll shaped cartouche just above the thumb catch contains a charming harebell. Lift the lid to see that the Kigu gilt jeweller's finish was also applied to the interior case which is decorated with a finely engraved pattern and inscribed Concerto in a cartouche. Turn the winding key clockwise to hear the delightful tune play.  The powder well lid is signed KIGU. The original Dorothy bag (pouch), unused signed puff and sifter are in place. As the lacquer is intact this item is as beautiful as it was over sixty years ago. Fitted with the finest Swiss musical movements these music boxes often still play well today.


       
                                                  
 
Party Cases are small, eye-catching vanity cases which are designed to carry everything a lady would need whilst out for the evening.
                                                                                                                                 

View Our Entire Collection Of Vintage Kigu Powder Compacts.

More reading:

https://thevintagecompactshop.com/blogs/antique-and-collectible-history

https://thevintagecompactshop.com/blogs/faq

You can find out more on the history behind their compact mirrors in our fact packs that come with every order.

Shop the collection - Kigu, Stratton, Mappin & Webb, Asprey, Garrard & Co, Henry Clifford Davis, J. Gloster, Mascot, Melissa & more vintage compacts.  

Please note that although we spend many hours each week updating or compiling new work for our historical blog section which is free to view, we do not offer an appraisal, identification, valuation or dating service to members of the public.

However, each purchase from our store is shipped with a lavishly illustrated history which dates the item and details the history of the item and that of the maker.