Stratton Compacts: Why Are Many Of The 1930s, 1940s And 1950s Models So Rare?
Without doubt Stratton were the most successful brand of British powder compact. The quality of their enamel was clearly superior to the other British brands at the time. Vintage Stratton accessories are highly collectible today and many have proved to be a good investment.
With thanks to the material written by Juliette Edwards in her book The Stratton Identification Key, collectors can say for certain what model is rare, uncommon & common. Coupled with known years of availability it is possible to build a big picture of exactly how rare an item is.
Links at the bottom of the article:
History of the Stratton brand with an illustrated timeline.
How to date & identify your Stratton compact
Rare Stratton vanities are a study in themselves & in most cases they are rare because of when they were produced. Obviously, the earlier the model the more likely it is to become rare, as through the passage of time so many were lost or damaged. Often the rare models of Stratton compacts were made in the 1950s, just as production was switching over to models suitable for both types of face powder ( pressed and loose). These are known as convertible compacts. The rare models are often those with the capacity for only housing loose foundation.
Rare Stratton Compact Models
'Non-Spill Flapjack'- known to be available in 1935. Advertisements are an excellent source to use to date rare collectibles. See below. It is likely that the 'Non-Spill Flapjack' was also available in the late 1930s too. Marketed as 'Stratton's New Non-Spill Powder Box' it was available in 3", 3 1/2" and 4" sizes.' This would refer, of course, to the diameter. The interior case contains a lift out annular inner lid. The example below is a fabulous Viking ship crafted from Pewter. The Stratton advertisement for 'Stratton's NEW NON-SPILL POWDER BOX' dates to 1935.
'Clipped Round' 1938 - as the name implies this was available for one year only. This Art Deco vanity was certainly typical for this era - slim and elegant, the circular shape punctuated by the unusual straight edges at the hinge and thumb catch. A 1938 advertisement describes this model as one of 'Stratton's Latest Powder Boxes.' The example below was a tribute to Ming, the first baby panda to arrive in Great Britain.
The Stratton 'Clipped Round' 1938 has a unique shape which makes it easy to identify.
'Large Flapjack' - this model has a patented snap catch which was invented by George Abe Laughton of Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. The firm applied to patent the catch on 28 June 1939. This is probably the largest Stratton compact. This magnificent compact measures 4 inches diameter!
The splendid unused Stratton Large Flapjack loose powder compact in the original box shown above is embellished with highly stylized floral motifs which form the most captivating composition. The lacquered brass is a deep rich gold. This compact will not tarnish or need to be cleaned due to the exacting standards the maker employed during its crafting. The interior case contains a large clear mirror. The mirror bezel and inner lid are signed STRATTON. The guarantee rosette, pouch, puff and sifter are all present.
The puff is particularly pretty. Soft cream felt is topped by beautiful baby blue material which is decorated with pink & blue butterflies and floral motifs.
STRATTON PRESENTATION BOX
The presentation box has the brands owned by Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. stamped on the pale blue pearlized exterior. Lady Jayne, Gilda, Expanda, Stratnoid, Velva, Stratton and Studiette can be seen. The item code 515/98 is neatly written on the base of the presentation box.
A rare and magnificent unused 1930s Stratton Large Flapjack powder compact adorned with the most splendid enamel decoration which depicts a dog and the most gorgeous tree which has the most fanciful and colourful highly stylized birds, a butterflies, foliage and blooms.
Maltby & Sons Photo-Lith
PATENT DRAWINGS FOR STRATTON PATENT 530653
The inner lid (snap catch) bears the inscription PAT No 530653. The drawings above show this device on a square model. The base of the compact is decorated with a spiral design. Measures 4 inches diameter and weighs 174.2 grams.
There aren't any catalogues or advertisements which feature this compact and so dating the compact has been arrived by referencing vanities expert, Juliette Edward's written material and also information that was lodged at the patent office. Pre-WWII is the most likely date for this model. After WWII metal was in such short supply no British manufacturer of vanities would have made such a large compact mirror.
STRATTON 'GLAMORIZER (EARLY)
1950s Stratton 'Glamorizer (Early)' powder compact. This is shown above. It was made for pressed powder and so it is a bit of a mystery why the production run did not continue well into the 1960s and beyond. There is no archival information about the 'Glamorizer (Early)', except a 1957 catalogue which states that it had been discontinued. This delightful creation features Piccadilly Circus, London on the satinized lid. This is the only time we have ever found the 'Glamorizer (Early)' model. A huge bonus is that this rare compact is unused and all the original features are present - presentation box, thick black felt pouch, instruction leaflet and big chunky version of the Stratton 'luxury puff', made especially for this model which is chunky too. All the brass is lacquered and so it will not tarnish or need to be cleaned. The lid is signed by the artist Flory Mackay. Such an enchanting representation of the night life in mid-century London - showgirls in their finery, people dining / dancing, balloons, stars, ballet shoes, musical notes, cafes, bars and what is known as the statue of Eros, which is actually The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, a winged statue of Anteros (Eros' brother) set atop. The golden mirror frame is signed 'STRATTON MADE IN ENGLAND'. This compact has an unusual hinged clip. The base is decorated with circular bands of stars. Measures 2 3/4 inches and weighs 79.9 grams.
‘Scone without Inner Lid' - known to be available in 1948. These are exquisite! Sometimes the lids were made from silk, which was rendered to give the appearance of an oil painting. The example below is one such vanity. It has a shallow powder well which is gilded. This model was replaced by the Stratton ‘Scone’ which had a production run from 1948 - 1962.
An exceptionally rare equestrian themed Stratton 'Scone without Inner Lid'. The lid is silk, rendered to look like an oil painting. This gorgeous vanity does not have any loss of design or fading. Absolutely splendid! This is an ideal gift for a collector or as a 12th (silk) wedding anniversary gift, when only something unique will do. This remarkable compact mirror shows a couple riding splendid horses accompanied by fox hounds. The lid is like a little work of art. The scene is minutely executed even mud thrown up by the horses hoofs is shown. We have not seen this lid decoration before.
The most exciting rare mid-century vanity!
The compact is so appealing, especially as it comes with the original box, pouch, sifter and puff. The pouch has done a good job of protecting this very special antique vanity.
The puff is absolutely delightful! A thatched manor house is depicted with smoke rising from the chimney. There aren't any traces of powder on the puff and sifter.
From year to year we do not see this model come up for sale and then this beauty appears! The edge of the lid is lacquered brass with an engine turned design. The mirror bezel is signed STRATTON MADE IN ENGLAND. The powder well is gilded. The gilding is vibrant just like the day it was made. The base is decorated with a fine spiral. Measures 3 inches diameter and weighs 65 grams.
The romantic and equestrian themed Stratton powder compacts are highly prized. This thrilling book piece is extremely scarce. The lid is silk and the lid decoration is rendered to look like an oil painting on canvas. This wonderful vanity is shown in 'The Stratton Identification Key'. This model is one of the most exciting Stratton vanities, as they are exquisitely decorated and very hard to find. The scene depicts a courting couple in attire that was typical for the Georgian era. The lady's pink bonnet & richly decorated purple dress are sumptuous and minutely detailed. On her hands she is wearing pristine white gloves. Her right hand is resting mid way down the horse's mane. She is offering her left hand to the horse. The gentle disposition of the horse is captured perfectly and the whole scene is charming. The gentleman is dressed in pale yellow breeches and a beautifully tailored crimson jacket. The wall of the stable is the same colour as the breeches. The stable door and window frames are green. Behind the lady is a lantern and purple flowers that resemble lilac. Behind and above the gentleman ivy clings to the wall. The foliage on both sides of the lid frame the composition perfectly. The engraved brass border is typical for this model. The interior is also exactly what one would expect to see - a shallow gilded powder well. The pouch is also what we would expect for this model - fine felt and circular. The puffs for this model can vary tremendously. The mirror bezel is signed 'STRATTON MADE IN ENGLAND'. The base has an engine turned design of a fine spiral. Measures 3 inches diameter and weighs 64 grams.
The vanity shown above is an extremely rare Stratton 'Scone without Inner Lid' powder compact which is decorated with an exquisitely detailed pictorial inlay of a courting couple in Georgian attire. We have never seen the lid decoration before. The subject matter makes this 1940s compact sought-after. However, it is the style that really makes this an exciting addition to any compact collection. The lid is rendered to look like an oil painting and it is as vibrant as the day it was created. There isn't any loss of design or fading. The charming scene is minutely detailed. The faces, fabrics, interior decor, the garden and picket fence are super. The composition is expertly designed and the picture tells a story, as there is a church in the distance. Absolutely gorgeous! The compact opens to reveal a gilded powder well and a good mirror. The mirror bezel is signed 'STRATTON MADE IN ENGLAND'. The base is decorated with a fine spiral. The original puff and sifter are included. This compact was originally made for loose face powder. The puff has scalloped edges which is usual for this model. The puff is decorated with printed flowers. The circular felt pouch is included as well. Measures 3 inches diameter and weighs 67 grams.
This is an extraordinarily rare 1940s Stratton powder compact that we have not seen before. The exquisitely beautiful lid is silk rendered to look like an oil painting. The minutely detailed scene depicts a Georgian couple having afternoon tea in an elegantly appointed dining room.
The 'Stratton Scone without Inner Lid' model can sometimes be found with wonderful lid decorations which have the appearance of still life oil paintings.
Examples of them are shown below.
The exquisitely beautiful lid is hand painted silk, rendered to look like a still life oil painting. This remarkable compact mirror is all the more appealing as it has never been used and it comes with the original accessories, all of which are pristine. The edge of the lid is lacquered brass with an engine turned design. The whole item was protected with a layer of lacquer at the point of manufacture which means it will never tarnish or need to be cleaned. Fuchsias, pink roses, ox-eye daisies and deep green foliage contrast against the black background. The pale yellow vase is just as accurately portrayed as the floral display - the right hand side of it is darker to show the shadow cast by the over hanging fuchsias and foliage. The mirror bezel is signed "STRATTON MADE IN ENGLAND". The original box, felt pouch & pink velour edged sifter are in place. So too is the original signed puff. The underside of the puff is lined with a layer of soft fleece. The base is decorated with a fine spiral. Measures 3 inches diameter and weighs 65.9 grams.
The rare vintage Stratton compact shown above is adorned with an enchanting still life composition. Gorgeous English wild flowers have been placed in a Wedgwood vase. Centaurea, ox-eye daises, buttercups, cornflowers and convolvulus form such an appealing display. This special vanity has been a cherished collector's piece since its creation. It has not been used. Our preference is for vintage accessories which have not been used and where ever possible we try to source unused items.
SCALLOPED EDGE PUFFS TYPICAL FOR THIS MODEL
The original sifter, pouch and puff are present. The puff is also rare. It has scalloped edges and the leatherette top is decorated with an ancient English warship and the Stratton signature. The mirror bezel is signed STRATTON MADE IN ENGLAND. The powder well is typical for this model, it is gilded.
The Stratton 'Scone without Inner Lid' is one of the most appealing models. We never know what will appear next. Sometimes it is many years until you see one of these compacts and then one will appear adorned with a lid decoration that we have never seen before.
The most quintessentially English scene you could imagine. This scene is hand painted silk. It looks like an oil painting. A timbered cottage set within the most delightful and typical cottage garden. The borders a profusion of native British plants. A neat path leads up to the front door. The cottage has tiny leaded windows, a plain green wooden door and what appear to be salmon pink and pale yellow walls. Some of the roof tiles are covered in moss. Behind the dwelling tall trees complete the scene. The imagery captures the peaceful rural idyll of mid-century England perfectly.
This is a very rare unused mid-century Stratton loose powder compact. This vanity is presented in the original box with all the original accessories. We know the model item code (548/DN), as it is stamped on the box, but as yet we do not know the name of this intriguing vanity. The Stratton Scone model has rare variations. For example - the Piccadilly (1959/1960), which is just like the Scone, except that it has a lid fashioned into the four leaf clover shape and the Photo Compact (c.1959) which has a heart shaped locket in the lid. The Scone model has also been used to create the Stratton Initial Compact.
This stunning 1950s accessory has the appearance of the Scone model. The piece is absolutely gorgeous. The lacquered brass gleams and the whole item is elegant and understated. The interior is beautiful and as you would expect a Scone to appear. The inner lid and mirror bezel are both signed Stratton. The exterior lid is what sets this vanity apart. The lid surround is engraved and it forms a two tier bezel to a gorgeous smoked glass mirror. We have never seen a Stratton compact like this before!
The interior mirror and exterior mirrors are excellent. The box, pouch, puff, sifter and guarantee rosette are all in super condition. Measures 3 inches diameter and weighs 106.3 grams.
'Early 1950s Fob' - this compact is shaped like a fob watch. It has a leather strap attached.
'Crown' - the year of production is not known. It does not appear in any catalogues that still exist. It is shaped like a crown and specialists believe that it is a tribute to Queen Elizabeth, most likely made in the year of her coronation (1953).
‘Marquise'- only known to be available in 1956 & 1957. It was replaced by the ‘Slim Convertible’, which has a very similar exterior case. However, the 'Marquis' was only suitable for loose face powder and this maker was introducing models that could accommodate pans of powder as well as loose powder. Ballet themed scenes often feature on the lid of the 'Marquise'.
‘Queen with complete inner lid' - is very rare. This model which shown below was known to be available in 1957 & 1958. That is the model itself, then you add the lid decorations that were used within this time frame giving you a new category within the rare compacts - rare models with rarely used lid decorations. A very short period of production, as in 1957 the makers launched one of their most popular compacts the ‘Queen Convertible’ to replace it. The policy of switching production to powder compacts suitable for loose and pressed powder was responsible for the short production runs of many models which are considered rare.
A rare enamel Stratton 'Queen' powder compact with a complete inner lid. On the lid a splendid bouquet arranged in an elegant vase makes this mid-century vanity a highly collectible beauty. The lid decoration is framed by elaborately engraved Tudor roses, leaf motifs and foliage which is typical for this model.
The interior case contains a large clear bevelled mirror. The inner lid is signed Stratton just under the Compact-in-Hand logo. The original presentation box, black felt pouch, leatherette puff and sifter are present. The base is decorated with a design of stars. Measures 3 1/2 inches diameter. Weighs 128.3 grams.
CLOSE-UP OF RARE QUEEN MODEL SHOWING TUDOR ROSE MOTIFS
'Grosvenor Lipstick Compact'*- 1958. This looks like a 'Musica' but instead of the interior housing the musical movement it contains a lipstick. When you see this model you will understand why it had an extremely short production run. Who would want a deep-bodied powder compact/lipstick holder the size of a 'Musica' in their handbag? The musical powder boxes were designed principally as a dressing table accessory. Imagine powdering your nose listening to The Blue Danube Waltz whilst getting ready to leave the house. The 'Lipstick Empress' was already in production two years prior to this model*. The 'Lipstick Empress' is relatively slender and obviously has the capacity to hold a tube of lipstick and so we think this was the preferred model and subsequently the production of the 'Grosvenor Lipstick Compact' ceased.
'Diamond-Shaped Glamorizer' - information shows that this was available from 1959 - 1962. As the name implies the compact is diamond-shaped. It has pairs of indents at each point of the diamond. This compact was designed for use with pressed powder but despite this, it was only made for a period of three years.
A rare Stratton Diamond-Shaped Glamorizer powder compact which is presented with the original pouch, puff and instruction leaflet. The compact has not been used with face powder. It is clean and ornamented with a gleaming gilt finish. The monogram cartouche is engraved with very ornate initials which are open for interpretation. The mirror gives a good and accurate reflection. The original mirror sticker reads as follows REAL ENGINE-TURNED FRONT. The mirror bezel is signed Stratton. The powder well is protected with the original coat of white enamel. Measures 8.2 cm wide. Weighs 88.4 grams.
This compact is the version with the slide bolt.
The instruction leaflet reads as follows:
Glamorize your pressed and cream powder by encasing it in this
Stratton PRESSED POWDER
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
Slide bolt to the "Open" position.
Lift hinged liner and fit powder tray into base spring.
Close liner and slide bolt to "Shut" position.
'Piccadilly' - known to be available in 1959 & 1960. This particularly enchanting vanity has high-quality enamel lid decorations and four indented edges similar to a four-leaf clover.
The compact above is described in the 1959 Stratton catalogue as -
FM. 693/339 A clover lea (sic) compact enhanced by
a pleasant floral design in red or blue translucent background. 3" dia.
The entry has an error it is written clover lea instead of clover leaf.
A rare Stratton Piccadilly powder compact which was crafted by the premier British maker. The only known years of availability of this model (different lid decorations) were 1959 and 1960. This model is the only one made by Laughton & Sons Ltd. with the lucky four leaf clover shape. The compact is ideal as a cherished collectible, as a handbag mirror or a loose foundation makeup compact.
This compact was described in the COMPACTS & ACCESSORIES by Stratton 1959 catalogue as -
The whole compact has a gilt lacquered finish which means that it will not tarnish or need to be cleaned. The compact is in good condition. The original box, puff, sifter, guarantee rosette and felt pouch are present. There aren't any signs of powder residue. The inner lid is signed Stratton. The mirror gives a good clear reflection.
The original mirror stickers are in place.
One of them reads -
'Thinette' - this is a little similar in appearance to the 'Clipped Round' - circular with a straight edge at the hinge. This is where the similarity ends. The thumb catch edge is circular. As the name suggests is it very slender. Only one known year of availability for this powder compact - 1960.
‘Contessa' - known to be available in 1963 & 1964. It was strange that Laughton & Sons Ltd. would introduce a loose powder compact in the 1960s, as their production was focused on manufacturing convertible compact mirrors to hold both powder types. In less than two years this model ceased to be produced. By 1970 a compact ('Mini-Convertible') with the same dimensions as the 'Contessa' was in production. The 'Mini-Convertible' does not have an inner lid and so it able to hold both loose and compressed powder. The popularity of the 'Mini-Convertible' ensured a long production run from 1970 to the end of manufacturing for Laughton & Sons Ltd. in 1997.
You can find out more on the history behind this revered manufacturer in our bespoke fact packs that are supplied with every order from The Vintage Compact Shop & view our entire range of Stratton Compacts.
This article is dedicated to rare Stratton powder compacts and to clarify - this means a model that had a very short production run. However, a Stratton powder compact could be classed as rare if it was a more common model adorned with a very rarely used and original lid decoration. For example, the loose powder compact below is known as the 'Star' or 'Slab'. This model was known to be available from 1952, 1955 - 1959. The example below is decorated with a technique known as ballotini, which was rarely used to decorate vintage accessories and so you can see the term rare is open to interpretation.
As we find more information we will update this article.
We are happy to work with film, television / theatre companies, museum curators & journalists who wish to feature vanities & collectibles.
However, we do not offer a valuation / identification service to members of the public regarding their own collections etc.
While the Stratton 'Princess' is not a rare model, some of them have rare lid decorations, like the one above. This ceramic plaque is handcrafted and makes this vanity a scarce and sought-after powder compact.
The Stratton 'Slim Convertible' had a long production run. Sometimes it is possible to find this model with rare lid decorations. The fabulous set shown below is exceptionally rare! Both the 'Slim Convertible' compact and lipstick holder mirror are unused and their gorgeous lids are embellished with high quality ballotini work.
These minute glass beads have been skillfully applied and craft the most pleasing display.