The Stratton Piccadilly Four Leaf Clover Shaped Compact Mirror 1959 / 1960

The Stratton Piccadilly Four Leaf Clover Shaped Compact Mirror 1959 / 1960


          © Helen Lishner  


This post is dedicated to Piccadilly Circus, London, the history of the area in the late 1950s and the origins of the name Piccadilly. The image above shows this area c.1959. Also why the statue of Eros is not actually Eros! As a collector of antique and vintage powder compacts and later on I pay tribute to the makers of the Stratton brand, Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. (latterly Laughton & Sons Ltd.) and one of the most exquisite vanities they ever produced - the Stratton ‘Piccadilly’ loose powder compact. With only two known years of availability (1959 & 1960) this compact mirror is rare and highly collectible. Why was the compact named ‘Piccadilly? Why was it designed with the unique shape for a Stratton branded vanity - the quartre-foil (lucky four leaf clover shape)? When was the opening mechanism patented and who invented it?

In 1959 there was much debate concerning the redevelopment of Piccadilly Circus.

In this extract from Hansard Mr. Kenneth Robinson MP for St. Pancras, N. is speaking during the Commons Sitting which took place on 26 November 1959 ‘....... Then there is this very vexed question of advertisements. The main tower of the building, as it would be seen from Piccadilly Circus, is to be nothing less than an advertisement hoarding 170 ft. in height covered with illuminated moving advertisements. It has been said that we all want to keep Piccadilly Circus a gay place with bright lights, and I accept that entirely. What I do not necessarily accept is that bright lights need be equated with advertisement signs.

But even if one does accept that view—and I agree there may be difficulties in paying for the bright lights unless there is an advertising revenue—I do not think that one can justify a tower of advertisements which will, in effect, be a lighthouse visible half way across London. I prefer to see advertisements, if there are to be advertisements, not very much above the pedestrian's eye level; I do not, of course, mean on a direct level with his eye, but, certainly, there can be no case for having them 170 ft. in the air.’

From the same Commons Sitting The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, Mr. Henry Brooke, is recorded in Hansard….. ‘I do not believe anyone wants a Piccadilly Circus of either stony austerity or unrelieved vulgarity, and, without prejudging any particular design, I suspect that the House does not wish to do away with the lights of Piccadilly altogether. If that is so, I shall try to carry out the desires of the House in all that falls to me to decide. Without expressing any view whatever on any particular building, I do not intend to be the Minister who blacks out the streaming coloured sparkles which mean Piccadilly Circus to Her Majesty's subjects all round the globe.’

The debate also took place in The House of Lords. Here is the Marquess of Salisbury speaking on 17 November 1959. ‘My Lords, might I make an appeal to the Government on this point? Piccadilly Circus is of much more than a purely local importance. It is one of the most important sites probably in the Commonwealth and Empire. It is quite clear that there is a definite clash on more than one point between the L.C.C., who are the local authority, and the Fine Art Commission, who are the chief æsthetic advisers to the Government. In these circumstances, can my noble friend not give an assurance that he will at any rate ask the Minister to give further -consideration to this question before reaching a decision, and that in the meantime work on the site should be suspended? I am sure that that would be in accordance with the general feeling of the House.’

                                                                          © Punch Limited

The satirical publication Punch, of course, had much to say about the redevelopment of Piccadilly Circus in 1959. The cartoon shows four different options for the site - ‘The Classic, The Mediaeval, The Contemporary and The Four-Leaf Clover (for luck).  

The owners of the Stratton brand were always on trend and this compact could have been inspired by this much talked about area, as was in production in 1959. A production run which did not last more than one year.

I am sure that most readers are aware that the area known as Piccadilly Circus in London is a road junction and public space with a very famous statue known by many people as the Statue of Eros. But the figure set atop the fountain is not Eros. It is his brother, Anteros. In Greek mythology Anteros was the god of requited love, literally "love returned".  The structure is correctly known as the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. After World War II it was moved from its original position in the centre of the circus. It was erected in 1892–93 to commemorate the philanthropic works of 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, who was a famous politician in the Victorian era.  His most worthwhile achievements were to replace child labour with school education, abolish the opium trade and he also worked to improve the care offered to the mentally ill . The fountain was crafted by Alfred Gilbert who stated that Anteros was the god of “reflective and mature love, as opposed to Eros or Cupid, the frivolous tyrant”. The view from the fountains overlooks the south-west end of Shaftesbury Avenue, which is also named after the Earl. Shaftesbury was held in such high esteem he was offered state burial in Westminster Abbey just prior to his death. He declined the offer.

Where does the name Piccadilly Circus originate from? 

It is said that in this context the word circus was derived from the latin circulus meaning circle, as the area is a round open space. Then we come to the name Piccadilly. What does it mean? How long has the area been known as Piccadilly and why? 

The origins of the name have been discussed since before 1656. In this year Thomas Blount said that ‘pickadil’ was 'the round hem, or the several divisions set together about the skirt of a Garment; or other thing; also a Kinde of stiff collar, made in fashion of a Band. Hence perhaps that famous Ordinary near St. James called Pickadilly, took denomination; because it was then the outmost or skirt house of the Suburbs that way.’




The portrait shows English Nobleman Grey Brydges Wearing A Piccadill c.1615.

Others say it took its name because the owner of the hall situated in this area was a wealthy tailor named Higgins. It is said that the bulk of his estate was brought from the proceeds of supplying pickadillies (a stiff collar) to the fashionable inhabitants. 

In 1791 the topographer Thomas Pennant stated  'Where Sackville-street was afterwards built, stood Piccadilla-hall, where Piccadillas or Turnovers were sold, which gave name to that vast street, called from that circumstance Piccadilly.' Others suggested that Piccadilly Hall was 'the house to which the peccadilloes, the gallants wearing peccadilloes, resorted'. 

In 1849  Peter Cunningham consulted the parish records of St. Martin in the Fields and was able to show that Piccadilly Hall had been built during the reign of James I. 

As the Victorian era was coming to a close, an article written by Charlotte Carmichael Stopes based on  close examination of parish records stated that the owner of Piccadilly Hall was a successful tailor named Baker. Stopes also produced as evidence a letter written by George Garrard in 1636, which confirmed that ‘Piccadilly’ was a derisive nickname bestowed on a prosperous tailor’s new house. 

Nobody knows exactly why this area is called Piccadilly.

However, this famous location has inspired artists, artisans, film makers and also manufacturers of vanities. 

To my knowledge only one vanity is called the ‘Piccadilly’,  although there are others that have lids adorned with the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and the busy scenes of this thoroughfare. One is extremely rare the Stratton 'Glamorizer' (Early).



                  1950s Stratton 'Glamorizer (Early).



This wonderful and rare compact has the most charming enamel lid decoration and a self opening lid. 

The makers were rightly keen to guard their inventions and the self-opening inner lid was such a bonus. Ladies with long nails would not be happy if opening the powder well door broke their carefully manicured nails. Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. were at the forefront of many innovations and many of them aided in the war efforts of both world wars. However, that is another story. Tilt the mirror lid back of the Stratton ‘Piccadilly’ and the inner lid pops open. 

The image below is the patent application for this device. 



The details on the patent application GB728985A show that Francis Joseph Curry was the inventor.


The diagrams above show the device fitted in the round base of a Stratton compact. For example - the ‘Scone’, ‘Piccadilly’, ‘Rondette’, ‘Contessa’, ‘Marquise’, ‘Muffin’ or  ‘Large Flapjack’. As you tilt the mirror lid back it touches a small protrusion (39) at the back of the compact which triggers a lever to push on the button of the powder well lid and hey presto it opens! 


The date of filing the patent application was February 18 1953.


Mr Curry & Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. made these claims about this invention. 

The documents below are reproduced without any editing.

“1. Improvement in a toilet powder box of the kind set forth, wherein the metal strip which is arranged in the hollow back of the 100 surround of the powder pan is provided with a catch nose adapted to co-operate with a portion on the lid of the pan in a manner to draw the lid down into a tight closingposition by the sliding of an inclined surface on the 105 catch nose over a flange or an edge on or carried by the lid.

- 2. Improved toilet powder box as claimed in Claim 1 substantially as described herein and as illustrated by Figures 1 to 5 of the 110 appended drawings.

3. Improved toilet powder box as claimed in Claim 1 wherein the powder pan and surround with the lever strip for operating the catch nose are constructed substantially 115 as herein described and as illustrated by Figures 6, 7 and 8 of the appended drawings.

BARKER, BRETTELL & DIUNCAN, Chartered Patent Agents, and 77 Colmore Row, Birmingham 3. 728,985 728,985 PROVISIONAL SPECIFICATION.

Boxes or Containers having an Inner Receptacle.

We, JAIRETT, RmNSFORD and LAuGHTON LmnFD, a British Company, of Leominster Works, Lower Essex Street, Birmingham 5, do hereby declare this invention to be S described in the following statement:The invention relates to boxes or containers having an inner receptacle closed by a hinged lid which is separate from the hinged lid or cover part of the box or container and is arranged on its hinge in a manner enabling it to spring open, or partially open, when a retaining catch is released.

Boxes or containers of this kind are employed as toilet powder boxes or " compacts."

In Patent Specification No. 607,648 a toilet powder box or compact is set forth, in which the powder pan is formed in an inner part having a flanged surround for fitting in the box or compact and wherein a resilient metal strip is anchored at one end in the back of the surround and carries the catch of an inner lid between the anchored end and a part engaged by a plunger arranged to flex the strip and release the catch of the inner lid when the plunger is actuated by opening back the box or compact on its hinge.

In accordance with the present invention the hinged lid of the pan or receptacle is provided at a part remote from its hinge with a hasp plate which, when the lid is closed, passes through a slot in a flange surround of the pan and projects into the hollow back of the flange, where it can be engaged by a nose or projection on the end of one arm of a cranked or curved lever, which nose enters a slot or recess in the hasp plate.

In a square or oblong box or compact, a cranked lever is located in the hollow flange at the back of the surround of the pan with its angle or crank nested in an angle of the flange adjacent a corner of the back of the pan, and with a portion of one arm, carrying the catch nose, bearing on one wall of the back of the pan adjacent the corner and a portion of the other arm (preferably a longer arm) bearing near the corner on the perpendicular wall of the pan. This latter arm of the cranked lever is bowed slightly, or made angular at a very obtuse angle, and the crown of the bow or apex of the obtuse angular part is provided with a small lug which projects through a slot in the container part of the hinged box or container so that it can engage the cover part thereof when the two parts are opened back on their hinged connection.

This applies pressure to the bowed or angular arm and deflects the metal of the cranked lever sufficiently to cause the other arm (short arm) to yield outwardly from its 60 abutment against the wall of the back of the pan thus deflecting the extremity, carrying the catch nose, outwardly and removing its nose from the hasp plate of the lid of the pan.

In order to guide and retain the short arm 65 of the cranked lever, the end flange of the flanged surround may have one or more tongues slitted out from it and bent over the arm in order to prevent any lateral displacement while leaving the arm free for deflecting 70 outwardly and springing back inwardly for respectively disengaging the catch and reassuming, when free, the position of rest where it will engage the hasp plate of the container lid. 75 The cranked lever is preferably made of flat strip metal, which can be stamped out of sheet metal to the approximately right angle shape, to lie readily in the hollow flanged surround as hereinbefore indicated. Each 80 arm preferably tapers slightly from the junction at the angle. The inner edge of the short arm from the angle is preferably parallel with the wall of the back of the rectangular pan for a short distance and 85 acts as a stop by bearing against the wall of the pan in its position of rest and so locating the nose of the catch accurately in relation to the hasp plate of the lid. This nose is bevelled on the front face so that the closing 90 of the lid of the pan will displace the nose against the inherent spring of the arm in the ordinary manner of a latch.

The bow of the longer arm of the lever is spaced away from the perpendicular wall of 95 the back of the pan in order to allow for deflection under pressure on the small lug when the compact is opened in a manner described in the aforesaid Patent Specification. The result of this deflection has the 100 effect of displacing the short arm outward, as above described.

In order to locate the long arm against displacement out of the hollow flange of the surround, a second lug can be bent backwardly in reference to the pan and perpendicular to the plane of the strip forming the arm.

This lug then bears lightly against, or is closely adjacent to, the part of the container or box in which the pan and its surround 110 flange is received when the parts are assembled.

In a circular or oval box or compact the lever is part circular and lies in the hollow back of the flanged surround of a circular or 115 oval pan. The lid of the pan carries the 728.985 hasp plate opposite the hinge and, as in the rectangular or oblong box, the hasp plate passes through a slot in the flange into the hollow back. The end of the lever carrying the catch nose is disposed appropriately for engaging the hasp plate and may be retained against lateral displacement by a tongue turned over it from the metal of the flange.

The lug for engagement by one of the hinged parts of the box, is provided intermediate the extremities of the lever and passes through a gap or slot in the peripheral wall of the flange and a slot in the container part of the hinged box.

An arc of the lever adjacent the lug is spaced from the wall of the back of the pan and at two points at the ends of this arch the lever has inner projecting abutment portions which rest against the said wall, whereas the portion of the arm of the lever carrying the catch nose is clear of the wall.

Pressure on the projecting lug of the lever deflects the arch between the abutments and this deflection causes an outer movement of the part of the arm carrying the catch as in the previous example.”

BARKER, BRETTELL & DUNCANT, Chartered Patent Agents, and 77 Colmore Row, Birmingham 3.

20Abingdon: Printed for Her Majesty's Stationery Office, by Burgess & Son (Abingdon), Ltd.-1955.

Published at The Patent Office, 25, Southampton Buildings, London, W.C.2, from which copies may be obtained.

The illustration shows the device fitted on the Stratton ‘Regency’ loose powder compact. The first known year of availability for the ‘Regency’ was 1953.



Francis Joseph Curry was a prolific inventor. Together he and Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. patented indexing devices such as flip top telephone and address pads - the Stratton ‘Fonopad’.



The successful and creative team of Curry and Jarrett Rainsford & Laughton Ltd. also patented “Improvements relating to propelling holders for lipsalve and similar preparations.” The advertisement above dates to 1949.

 Patent application GB634693A.


“Improvements in or relating to cigarette cases, powder compacts and like containers Abstract         614,971. Cigarette cases &c. JARRETT, RAINSFORD, & LAUGHTON, Ltd.. LAUGHTON, G. A., and CURRY, F. J. July 25, 1946. No. 22128. [Class 18] [Also in Group XXV] A sheet metal cigarette, etc., case is held closed by a snap fastener having arcuate-faced protuberances which, when the case is closed, ride one upont the other to engage each behind the other. Flanges 4 are formed on the edges of the case and are separated in part from the edges to which they are attached by cuts, 6, the separated parts being rolled to form scrolls 5. The scrolls may be formed about pins or rivets 7 which finish their external faces and facilitate opening of the case. A hinge 3 may be either integral with the case or be an attached fitting. The flanges 4 may extend to the ends of the case.”


Another collaboration saw Curry and the team apply to patent the closures we are familiar with seeing on Stratton cigarette cases and the Stratton ‘Pontoon’ which was first known to be available in 1948



The Stratton “Piccadilly” is one of our all time favourite powder compacts. It is as beautiful as it is elusive. We have only seen this model finished with turquoise, red and maroon enamel. 

There were only two known years of production 1959 & 1960 & this is the only Stratton compact with the lucky four leaf clover shape. It has the most beautiful enamel with gilt accents - the elegant quatrefoil design so splendid to see. The lid decoration shows work of the highest calibre. Tiny flowers surrounded by cream enamel set off by gilded borders, the turquoise borders are the perfect colour / color contrast. This model is noted in the 1959 catalogue as “clover leaf shape”. The enamel decorations emphasize this quatrefoil design. Each edge of the lid has a gilt border which is indented to form the quatrefoil.

 The quatrefoil as a decorative element is found in ancient religious symbolism, particularly Christianity, architecture and heraldry. The word quatrefoil means "four leaves", from Latin quattuor, four, plus folium, a leaf. Usually this design refers to a four-leafed clover and it therefore has the positive connotations of a talisman.

 This design is often seen in ecclesiastical buildings in the form of a window adorned with stained glass.


The NorthernTransept Window Of The Four Evangelists is shown above.

This creation was crafted by Ferguson and Urie and sits high in the Former Saint George’s Presbyterian Church - Chapel Street, St Kilda East. All four of the Evangelists hold the Gospel and a quill. Matthew is in the top left-hand pane, Mark (top right), Luke (bottom left) and John (bottom right). 

Each saint is shown in a cartouche surrounded by grape vines symbolising the blood of Christ. The composition is completed by four small circles showing a Tudor Rose for England, a thistle for Scotland, a shamrock for Ireland and a fleur-de-lis which represents the Holy Trinity.



YORK CASTLE © aeroengland



Stephen Montgomery created the original reconstruction of York Castle. hchc2009 edited the background .

The design of fortified buildings would also often incorporate the lucky quatrefoil design, as can be seen in the aerial view of the keep of York Castle.


© Photographic Greetings Card Company


The Stratton ‘Piccadilly’ is similar in many respects to the ‘Scone’. This lid and base overhang the side walls and it is the same size. This shape was considered easy to hold and therefore less likely to be dropped. 

The makers of the Stratton brand were often on trend. For example they would make accessories which commemorated royal occasions like the 1953 Coronation and also significant events in British history such as The Sutton Hoo Find and the first panda cub, Ming, to come to Great Britain.

In 1959 Piccadilly Circus in London was about to undergo major redevelopment and the location was much in the news as the public outcry regarding the proposed development necessitated a public inquiry. Piccadilly Circus was considered to be unique and a focal point of the capital city and the Commonwealth. The public inquiry into the Monico site was a test case. 

More beautiful and special vintage compact mirrors.