Rare Vintage Stratton Powder Compacts
Eleanor and I feel as though it is important to pay tribute to the makers and also to say thank you to our customers, many of whom are fellow collectors. We like to create new historical fact packs for each subsequent sale, so that we are not duplicating information when the same customer purchases another piece from the same maker.
During the history of the British firm, known at this time as Stratton Co. Ltd. they were famed for acknowledging important events, most especially royal milestones, by creating vanities that honoured coronations, royal weddings and silver jubilees. This company would produce limited editions to mark very special occurrences in British history.
1930s Pewter Viking Ship 'Non-Spill Flapjack' - thevintagecompactshop.com
The Sutton Hoo Find.
In 1939 one of the most spectacular British archaeological excavations took place at Sutton in Suffolk. Not one but two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries were discovered. They date to the 6th & early 7th centuries. This included an undisturbed ship-burial which historians believe entombed the ruler of the East Angles, Rædwald.
The size, completeness and beauty of this find guaranteed these artifacts pride of place at the British Museum in London. We believe that this remarkable excavation and the precious artifacts were being honoured by Stratton Co. Ltd. when they created this ‘Non-Spill Flapjack'.
Such was the attention to detail that the makers even departed from the materials that they usually relied upon for the construction of their vanities and accessories. The lid is pewter and yes, this is significant. The Norse fashioned many everyday items from pewter, as it has a relatively low melting point in the range of 750 F which could be achieved by building a small fire.
Stratton 'Clipped Round' 1938
Understanding this tribute to the Sutton Hoo find made me wonder if the Panda set atop the lid of the ‘Clipped Round’ 1938 had any significance and I was delighted to find that this was the case.
This antique powder compact is intriguing and very special. It is rare. The ‘Clipped Round’ was only known to be available in one year and it is this date that helped me to unlock its history. Knowing that this piece was going to be part of a collection I felt that it was important to make a fact pack worthy of the piece.
I started to wonder about the lid decoration and the date. I had a hunch that both were particularly significant. Stratton Co. Ltd. were situated at 3 Hamsell Street, Jewin Street, E.C.1. The manufacturing premises were sited at Balmoral Works, Birmingham.
In 1937 Ming and five other pandas were captured in south-western Sichuan province by hunters who wanted to send them to European zoos. In 1938 The Zoological Society of London took three of the pandas, Ming and her older siblings, Sung and Tang. All the pandas were named after Chinese dynasties. As the first panda cub to arrive in Britain, Ming really was the star of the show and this event created a huge amount of interest from the press and public alike. British manufacturers produced soft toys and postcards featuring Ming. Stratton Co. Ltd. produced this limited edition ‘Clipped Round’ 1938 loose powder compact with Ming set atop.
Sunday Graphic 7th of may 1939
Sunday Graphic 7th of may 1939
The well known press photographer, Bert Hardy, brought his son, Michael to see the panda.
The panda and the child were the same age. Bert Hardy started a series in the Sunday Graphic called Peter And The Panda. Mrs Hardy made costumes for her son to wear during these photographic sessions with Ming. The panda always seemed very happy with her little human companion. However, Ming was not always so placid.
Here is Bert Hardy writing in his autobiography Bert Hardy: My Life…………..
“Periodically, the panda used to lose its temper and go berserk... I don’t think many people really appreciated how dangerous pandas can be... apart, that is, from insurance companies. When Davis [his colleague at the General Photographic agency] tried to insure Michael’s safety, none of them would have anything to do with it.”
Children had fun at the zoo in the 1930s!
Can you imagine being allowed to play with pandas in the 21st century?
Straight Edge Thumb Catch - thevintagecompactshop.com
We hope that you enjoyed the history of this Stratton ‘Clipped Round’ 1938. This is the only 'Clipped Round’ we have ever had in our collection. The lid & base have very attractive salmon pink enamel surfaces. The lid is a tribute to Ming! This model of compact is decidedly Art Deco in style - slender with the round shape punctuated at the hinge and thumb catch with unusual straight edges.
The interior is satinized. The rim of the powder well is signed 'Stratton'. Measures 76 mm wide & weighs 75.6 grams.