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.
Rare Stratton vanities are a study in themselves & in most cases they are rare because of when they were produced. 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.
Top Rare Stratton Compact Models
1. '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.
2. '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. Click here to read more about this story.
The Stratton 'Clipped Round' 1938 has a unique shaped which makes it easy to identify.
2. Joint number 2 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. Needless to say we are thrilled to have this highly collectible vanity in our collection. 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" and weighs 79.9 grams.
3. ‘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.
4. 'Early 1950s Fob' - this compact is shaped like a fob watch. It has a leather strap attached.
5. '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).
6. ‘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 compacts were often featured on the lid of the 'Marquise'.
7. ‘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.
8. 'Grosvenor Lipstick Compact'*- 1958. This looks like a 'Musica' but instead of the interior housing the musical movement 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.
9. '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.
10. '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.
11. '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.
12. ‘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 for interpretation.
As we find more information we will update this article.
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