April 12th 2013
interesting question from Danielle Boyd.
Do the Stratton Empress models always have the beautiful curled feathers design? I am seeing this type of Stratton advertised at the moment with a design like this one.
Jenny Duncan replies;
Thank you for your interesting question and I’m able to answer it by referring to Juliette’s comprehensive and cleverly devised Stratton Key. On page 36 Juliette describes an Empress compact with an enamelled lid and large decorative mount, which is described as having “an unusual checked design on the base.” This, she tells us, is shown in a 1957 catalogue. The Empress was a more luxurious model and less commonly found.
We can only hope that Juliette will re-print her Stratton Key to sell at our Convention, as it is the very best guide to Stratton
February 16th 2013
question from new Member
across your page when trying to find some
information about my "new" Stratton compact. I
can't find any information or pictures on this
one, so I am hoping some of the board members
might have any information about it? I would
love to know how old it is!
The colour is slightly less green than in the photo.
Welcome Hedda to the BCCS and I hope you’ll enjoy many years of fun compact collecting and sharing with us your collection as it grows! Identifying the age of our compacts and finding out what we can about them is a source of endless fascination. To help you with your question, please measure across the lid of your Stratton compact and lets us know this measurement and tell us whether it has an inner lid. Looking forward to hearing from you and I hope we can help.
I have attatched a picture of the inside of the compact, and the measurement is about 8 cm diameter.
Thank you for the additional photo and measurement. From these I’m able to tell that your Stratton is a “Slim Convertible”, which was made to be suitable for both loose and solid powder. Your photos show that you have an empty pan of solid powder in the powder well. This should lift out to reveal a cream coloured base to the powder well. It would not have been sold with solid powder, but whoever used it in the past chose a solid powder and inserted it herself. When new, the compact came with a powder puff and a sifter so that it could also have been used for loose powder. The “Slim Convertible” was a popular style and I’m referring to Juliette’s invaluable Stratton Key, which states that its known years of availability were: 1960 to 1962, 1964 to 1979, 1982 to 1993, 1995 to 1997. I’m sorry that I don’t know the specific date your compact was made. Stratton produced hundreds of lid designs, but when Juliette is working again on her own archive of Stratton designs she may be able to spot it. If I find out anything more, I’ll let you know, but in the meantime – happy collecting!
Juliette Edwards replies;
Hedda's Slim Convertible with the bright-cut circles is in the 1970 catalogue.
Thank you so much
for your help, that is very interesting and
25th January 201
am a new member and I am writing you for the
first time. Thanks for all the information
on the BCCS web site. I recently bought some
vintage compacts at vintage fair in London.
Among them, I could not find any certain
information on the following compacts.
Art Deco style compact - Alwyn - Made in U.S.A.
Made in England.
I have never heard of the name of both companies.
I would like know about each compacts and companies.
If you have any information, please let me know.
Thanks in advance.
Jennifer - Made in England inscribed on the hinge.
Jenny Duncan replies:-
Welcome Kanae to the BCCS and thank you for your interesting question and photos of your beautiful compacts.
The lovely, rich enamelled compact by Alwyn is a very unusual one. The American collector Laura Mueller in Mueller’s Overview of American Compacts & Vanity Cases p. 113 illustrates four Alwyn compacts, two of which are in the same shape as yours and she notes that they are rare. She also shows two American advertisements dating from November 1940 for The Alwyn Case Co. Inc. It is likely that your compact dates from that time, although a felt-edged inner lid without a sifter was a construction used from the early 1930s. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this website, fancy goods of this quality were produced in the USA in the early 1940s, but in Britain metal manufacturers were given over to war-time production.
Your compact marked “Jennifer” on the hinge is intriguing. I have not seen that name before on a compact, but on this type of hinge we would more commonly expect to see the name “Gwenda”. Everything about the construction of the case, the characteristic scalloped thumb-catch and the hinge are features associated with the British brand “Gwenda”. Juliette notes that the brand was advertising in trade papers by 1937 and was manufactured by Hussey & Dawson Ltd. of Birmingham. Gwenda compacts from this period have various lid designs including geometric art deco patterns, which were paint enamelled, and foil or butterfly-wings were used under celluloid covers with designs reverse-printed on the underside. A crinoline lady was a popular design in the late 1930s. Many Gwendas had chromium-plated interiors and the polished metal lid interior served as a mirror. Your compact with its gold-tone finish is likely to have a glass mirror. It would also have had a sifter in the powder well and a thin felt puff.
BCCS member Mike Ashton in his Compact History of Face Powder Containers Vol. 5 p.168 shows an unmarked compact similar to your “Jennifer” compact. He also believes it to be made by Hussey & Dawson Ltd. Mike’s compact shows a more simply depicted crinoline lady and he suggests that it is hand-painted on silk and then covered with a thick celluloid film. It is difficult to tell from your photo, but from the way the design is placed on the lid I think it may be transfer-printed rather than hand-painted? What do you think? We know that Hussey & Dawson made compacts with this construction for other brands, for example the English company Dubarry Perfumery and, as already indicated, some were unbranded. After World War 2, in the name of Hussey Dawson, the company resumed production of the “Gwenda” brand.
If I find out any more about “Alywn” or “Jennifer” I’ll let you know, but “Jennifer” was certainly “Made in Birmingham”!
A reply from Margaret Bright:-
I also have a "Jennifer " compact. Mine is a far simpler design crinoline lady, bird table and a few birds and flowers on a light blue background....to me it looks to be hand painted. Under the mirror is the name "Jennifer" and made in England
Because of the catch I took it to be made for Gwenda and presumed that "Jennifer" was the name given to the design on the compact itself and that some day I just might be lucky enough to come across another identical "Jennifer" with a different coloured background.
I am now thinking that the name "Jennifer" was a name given to a series of crinoline lady compacts.....but who they were made for I don't think we will ever know. I did find another one more or less identical to my blue one with a peach background but without the "Jennifer" name.
Oh the joys of compact collecting.
A follow-up question from Kanae.
Jenny for your detailed information on
those two compacts.
Thank you in
advance., Kanae .
Thank you Kanae for the additional photos and it does look as if your “Jennifer” compact may be hand-painted, but by actually handling it you are the best person to tell this.
Also, I very much appreciate hearing from Margaret about her “Jennifer” compact. Margaret’s simpler design sounds very similar to the unmarked compact I mentioned that Mike Ashton depicts. Mike’s compact shows a crinoline lady with a parasol and a bird table.
16th January 2013
I am a new member and have been left approximately 50 compacts of various sizes shapes and makes by my late step gran.
I don't know much about them. I have a few that seem to be very interesting and in the process of photographing them.
One in particular of interest is a small round silver metal compact approx 2" with made in Britain and with a label that says Rachel on the bottom of the compact. The lid has a Edward 8th coin in it, surrounded by scalloped blue enamel ? hard to tell as this is covered by celluloid or bakelite. Was it made to commemorate his coronation. I also have a compact by Belmar which is square silver plate and gilt interior it has possible Masonic or religious symbols on the case. I can find no information on Belmar.
I hope you can help without photos, will send some when i get them all done
Best Wishes and thank you for your help.
Beverly Eastham a new and confused member.
Jenny Duncan replies:
Welcome to the BCCS and to the fascination of compact collecting. Many of us, including myself, have begun compact collecting because of treasured compacts left to us by someone in the family. Please don’t be confused, just take your time and enjoy them! So much of the fun of compact collecting is what we can find out about our compacts. Our founder Juliette has always encouraged us to share what we know, so that we can better appreciate these lovely collectables and along the way we will make new friends. Thank you for your interesting question and it is due to our wonderful Convention in 2012 that I can begin to respond at least to part of it.
On display in our “Best of British” exhibition and shown on page 25 of the exhibition catalogue (which is still available to buy) is a compact in silver metal with a bronze coloured metal image of Edward VIII with the words CORONATION OF KING EDWARD VIII 1937. The coin is like a pre-decimal penny coin, framed in silver-tone metal, so differs from your own compact with its blue surround. The bronze image of Edward shown on the compact in the exhibition catalogue faces to the right and shows the collar of a military uniform.
While it resembles a coin, Mary Baker, the Convention organizer and author of the catalogue, notes that on coinage to be minted, Edward had insisted that he should face left to show the parting in his hair. This was a departure from the tradition that each successive monarch faced in the opposite direction to his or her predecessor. Since Edward’s father, George V, had faced left Edward himself should have faced to the right.
Only a very small number of proof coins were struck before the abdication. These are amazingly rare and show a profile of Edward’s head and neck facing left with no representation of a collar on a military uniform. They were never in circulation as he abdicated in December 1936. This means that the coin in the exhibition compact would never have been a coin of the realm from the Royal Mint, but was made as a commemorative, in the expectation that he was be represented in the traditional way.
Please check your compact to see if Edward is facing to the right and wearing military uniform, as this means that it was not a coin of the realm. However, it is most likely that your compact would have been made in 1936 to commemorate Edward’s anticipated coronation in 1937, which of course never took place.
It is unlikely that your compact has an enamel surround, since you mention that it is covered with a type of celluloid or another early plastic. Enamel would not need this type of protection. There were, however, ways of making a decorative finish that resembled guilloche enamel. These sometimes used foil under celluloid or, alternatively, metal coatings were applied to one side of a celluloid sheet, which was then impressed with a pattern so that it looked like enamel.
The compact depicted in the exhibition catalogue was designed to take a small pan of compressed powder, known as a godet. It is inscribed on the base RACHEL – MADE IN ENGLAND and is 50 mm dia. You describe your compact as having a label on the base which says RACHEL. “Rachel” was very often used as a name of the colour of pressed powder. At the present time we do not know which British company made these commemorative compacts with their imitation coins.
Your compact marked “Belmar” is a mystery to me and when you are able to photograph it, please send us some pictures. I do not know this name as a compact brand and at present can shed no light on it. I’m assuming from your description that the word “Belmar” is impressed in small letters into the metal case, in a way that would suggest a maker’s name?
Compacts may be found with masonic insignia, usually the set-square and compasses or a special badge for a particular masonic lodge. You would be able to find this out yourself through internet searching. These would have been presented as gifts on Masonic Ladies’ Nights, when wives of Masons were invited for a special dinner.
It’s always fascinating to come across something unusual and if I can find out about Belmar then I’ll be in touch again.
4th January 2013
An interesting question from member Eleanor Bennett.
Does anyone know anything about the Enessa brand of powder compacts?
I think that they were a British brand around in the 40s & 50s but that is all I know.
Thank you for your time.
Jenny Duncan replies:
From the information available, Enessa is a British Brand and Juliette cites 1951 as the earliest date known from documentary evidence. The Enessa in this photo
belonged to my mother and if my memory serves me, I played with it as a girl around 1954-5. I don’t think it was new at that time, as it was kept in a drawer of her dressing table. My mother thought it was rather vulgar and never used it, but as a child I loved the glitter!
It has a satin finished gilt lid, with a raised filigree design in silver coloured metal and paste jewels in turquoise and blue. The polished base has “Made in England NS” in the centre. 82mm/3 ¼ in. dia. The inner lid is engraved “Enessa” in script, with sifter and puff stamped “Enessa” in gold script. It has its original, circular beige pouch.
27th December 2012
I recently purchased this pretty Henriette ball compact from eBay and I'm wondering if you know about other designs similar to this one that they made, and if this is considered rare? I read somewhere that this is from 1938 I've only found one other compact with a different design of flowers in it, and really love these compacts. I've seen the 8 ball and one with dice inside, but can't find other floral ones.
A Reply from Jenny Duncan.
Welcome to the BCCS and happy collecting in 2013! Your Henriette compact is very pretty and although I don’t have this compact in my collection, I think that there were variations to the flowers. These are quite rare and very collectable. Another variation on a floral design is shown in two American compact reference books, Laura Mueller’s, Mueller’s Overview of American Compacts & Vanity Cases, p. 108 and Roselyn Gerson’s Vintage & Vogue Ladies Compacts 2nd edition, p. 94. These show the same style of Henriette compact, but with a single white daisy against a green background and a silver ball that rolls between the petals. At the point of each petal is printed “Yes”, “No” and “Maybe” and the compact is clearly a variation on the game of pulling petals off a daisy. The compact is described as the “Questioning Daisy Petal” and both authors refer to a patent circa 1937, which I think may refer to the design of the catch. I believe that compacts with the dice and the number 8 ball are sometimes dated to the early 1940s and these can be found with card edged sifters and generous velour puffs. It seems likely, therefore, that your compact would have had these. America in the early 1940s continued to produce novelty metal items, but keep in mind when collecting that in Britain fancy goods production had given way to war-time production. If you like the appearance of flowers under a Perspex dome, you may also like to explore Kigu and Pygmalion flower basket compacts, which were made in Britain in the early 1950s once peace-time production had been fully restored. Scroll down this page for some more information about these and follow the link to the Kigu website. Have fun!
30th November 2012
interesting question from member Elizabeth
|I saw Geoff
with a compact to repair at the convention.
It had a military insignia on it; a small
silver bugle with corded decoration which
depicts a rifle regiment. I was hoping
that whoever this wonderful compact belonged to,
could possibly be kind enough to tell me all
about it, and where they found it. I would
really love to find one for sentimental reasons,
as it was the insignia of my Dad's regiment also
(The Cameronian's Scottish Rifles).
Please contact; firstname.lastname@example.org
24th November 2012
I have a black Trio-ette compact, and overheard a conversation at the Convention thet they were re-produced? Wondered how you might be able to determine which were original and which were a reproduction?
Very best regards, Elizabeth Batho.
Jenny Duncan replies:
A black Trio-ette style compact was reproduced by the American cosmetics’ company “Benefit” and was on sale in 2003 priced £32.50 and called a “Glamourette”. Benefit was founded by two make-up artists in San Francisco and they delight in retro styling. Their products are available in larger branches of Boots and Debenhams, but the “Glamourette” is no longer in their range. It was made in shiny black plastic with a beaded edge and had a moulded swirl on the lid. The design is based on a Platé Trio-ette, which was also American and advertised in the USA as on sale in 1946. The advert is reproduced in Roselyn Gerson’s Vintage & Vogue Ladies’ Compacts 2nd ed. p. 116 and states that it was, “Inspired by a quaint Victorian rose cameo hand mirror”. The Platé Trio-ette had a beaded edge and a distinctive rose moulded into the back and was available in black, black with the rose in pink, green, tortoiseshell, white, pink and blue plastic. All had a rose moulded into the back. In Face Facts Issue 32 January 2006, Juliette answers a question about a similar style of British made compact called a “Three-in-One” and advertised in 1949. This is marked “Jason” and “Made in England”. Juliette comments that the Jason “Three-in-one” was available in blue, green, ivory, black and tortoiseshell and was available by mail order from Targett Tools Ltd., London. The Jason “Three-in-One” has a ridged circular design to the lid with a smooth edge.
I hope this helps you determine whether your compact is an early one or a Benefit “Glamourette”.
8th November 2012
couple of Questions from member Eleanor Bennett.
I am really interested in the historical details regarding compacts but I can not find any information on Regent of London & very little about Melissa compacts.
Here is what I have so far regarding Melisssa:
1. A Company based in London named Searchlight Products Ltd manufactured compacts throughout the 1950s but ceased trading by the mid-1960s.
Does anyone know more about these two companies?
Is anyone able to recommend books about compact manufacturers? I have the wonderful Stratton Key and wish there was a key for all the compact companies!
Thank you so much for your time.
A reply from Jenny Duncan:
I know it can be frustrating when you are unable to find out something about your compacts, but there are still so many areas that need more research and that is the fascination of compact collecting. There are no books about compact manufacturers to compare with Juliette’s Stratton Key and an important reason behind the creation of the BCCS was to promote research into compacts and their manufacture. Juliette’s work on Stratton is the most comprehensive research into a single manufacturer that has been published. Information about Kigu can be found on the website http://www.vintage-compacts.com/ and you will have read other original research in Face Facts, such as Lisa’s history of LSM. Mike Ashton’s detailed and comprehensive History also offers some information about manufacturers with more information about Kigu in Volume 7, but it is not structured as a history of specific manufacturers. In collaboration with Juliette and assisted by members’ photos and information I have researched and written in Face Facts in some detail about a number of compact and cosmetic brands. So, there is still a lot of work to do and it is very difficult to piece together company histories.
Very little is known about the brand Regent of London and it remains still to be researched. Last year we were able to date certain specific Regent designs to 1962 (see Face Facts Issue 53 Nov. 2011), although it is likely that other styles date from the 1950s. A Regent in my collection similar in style to those dating 1962 has a catch on its inner lid which is identical to that on a fan-shaped Melissa and the pattern on the inner lid has the same style of engine-turned stripe. It is possible, therefore, that the Regent brand was also made by Searchlight Products. Of additional interest, I have a small compact (46mm dia.) circa 1930, designed to hold a godet pan with a label “T.P. Powder Compact Manufactured by Regent Equipment Co. Ltd. Birmingham”. You can see that there is research still to be done!
Juliette’s research showed that Melissa was a British brand made by Searchlight Products (Melissa) Ltd. It is thought to have been based in Acton, London W3 from the early 1950s, but I found that by 1962 the company had premises in Arundel Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex. In 1970, the company was still listed at this address in a telephone directory, but by 1972 another company occupied the site. A local trade directory of 1976 listed Searchlight Products, so possibly the firm was still trading at this later date, but I have been unable to find out at what date it ceased manufacturing compacts. The compacts with which we are familiar are in the taste and style of the 1950s to early 1960s. If you are able to find out more we’d love to hear from you!
5th November 2012
Peacock has two questions:
Does anybody have any information about this leather look compact with HMS RODNEY badge on it?
Has anybody heard of the compact name "Lovely"? I think it is an American company.
Jenny Duncan replies:
Your leather-look, horse-shoe shaped compact is similar to two compacts described by Mike Ashton in Vol. 6 of his Compact History, pages 25 and 29, one dating from 1942 and the other c.1946. These are described as Rexine covered cardboard and Rexine was a leather-look material. The construction was in response to wartime restrictions on the use of metal and also post-war shortages. One of Mike’s examples has an interior design patented in 1946 and an applied badge for HMS Raleigh, which saw service in World War 2.
There is plenty of information on the internet about the ship depicted on your compact – HMS Rodney. She was a battleship launched in 1925 and was involved in the sinking of the Bismarck in 1941 and finally scrapped in 1948. Depending on the interior design of your compact, it is likely to date either from the war-time years or immediately post-war before HMS Rodney was scrapped.
2nd November 2012
I'm busy evaluating my collection and would appreciate your help. The photos I have attached are compacts I have tried to research, but can find little or no information. All are in very good condition. The Kigu hearts is particularly beautiful with the pale blue guilloche enamel. The Vogue compact with what seems a crown motif with red and clear rhinestones could have been made for the Queens coronation, but not sure. The Stratton seahorse is just unusual. The Harrods mirror compact is quite heavy, which seems edged in silver, but no hallmarks. Finally the silver and gold vogue compact is stunning and sophisticated, but I'm unable to date and not sure if silver plated or stainless steel. These compacts are amongst my favourites so would appreciate any further information any members could add.
A reply from Jenny Duncan.
Your compacts are beautiful and I hope that this limited information may be of some interest.
I have a number of Kigu catalogues, which form part of Juliette’s archive and which I now hold on behalf of the BCCS. I think that your Kigu compact with the hearts motif is the same as one shown in a 1963 catalogue. It is from the “Venus” 70 Series. These are slim compacts, 77 mm dia. and the catalogue describes a compact with the two interlocking hearts as, “This exclusive creation, silver-plated throughout, in pink, blue or white enamel, reflects a fascinating pattern of light. The jewel mount is a superb ornament”. I think they are a type of faux guilloche, but have a very high quality finish.
The Vogue Vanities compact with a jewelled crown on the lid has a design of catch on the inner lid for which a patent was filed by an assignor to the company in 1946. Volume 1 of Mike Ashton’s History provides details of many inner lid closures. Vogue Vanities Ltd. (England) resumed production after World War 2 manufacturing high quality compacts with decorative lid designs, which the company were advertising in the late 1940s and until the mid 1950s. The pretty swansdown puff is a feature of many Vogue Vanities’ compacts. I do not know whether this was intended as a Coronation souvenir.
The Vogue Vanities compact with the engraved border is very similar in style to a design known to have been advertised in 1951.
The Stratton with the sea horses is a charming design and is shown on a model known as a Queen Convertible, which Juliette’s Stratton Identification Key indicates had a 40 year production run from 1957-1997. The pattern on the base of your compact indicates production from around 1970 to the late 1980s, so that narrows it down somewhat. If you collect Stratton compacts I highly recommend that you buy Juliette’s Stratton Key as a reference guide and check out this website regularly as Juliette may be able to locate this sea horse design in her Stratton archive.
I have no information about the Harrods mirror compact, but it looks of relatively recent origin.
Please thank Jenny Duncan for her kind response to my questions which has been extremely helpful.
5th October 2012
Eleanor Bennett has asked if any member can give
her any information regarding her fifth
favourite in her Favourite Five selection.
Perhaps you can help?
22nd September 2012
have been a member of the BCCS for a few
months now & I find all the information the
club provides very interesting.
I have recently purchased a Evans Carryall which my pride & joy. There is just one thing though. The lipstick which is unused has a slide down mechanism that brings the lid down into the case. I am assuming this same mechanism
should make the lipstick rise as the lid goes down but it does not. Am I doing something wrong or do you think that with this particular model there was a flaw? The carryall I have has green enamel bubbles all over the front.
I hope one of the members will be able to answer this.
|Jenny Duncan replies.|
I have just unearthed the first compact and I wonder if anyone could shed any light on it. I know it is a Margaret Rose, but would love to know something about the picture on the front as it is so so pretty. As it has a hole on the reverse to assist with getting the powder pan out I would guess it is 1950's but somehow this doesn't fit with the picture. I also think it could be brass as it has gone slightly green on the inside. Any ideas?
Sorry but keep finding unusual compacts (have just bought a job lot) and thought someone may have a clue what they are (I am stumped), this one is about 2 inches diameter with an engine turned centre then a very small circle of blue enamel with a marcasite star on top. There are no marks (hallmark or makers) anywhere on it, however it is marked "foreign" on the inside rim. Any ideas as to date or origin?
Thanks so much
Jenny Duncan replies:
The gorgeous picture on Alison's compact is a version of one of my favourite paintings! It is by the French painter Nicholas Lancret and was painted in the early 18th century, circa 1730, and is called 'La Camargo Dancing'. This version with her dancing partner in red is, I think, the version in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. I only "know" this picture from reproductions, but am very familiar with another portrait of La Camargo with a similar pose which is in the wonderful Wallace Collection in Manchester Square behind Selfridges in London.
I'm a ballet lover and Marie Anne de Cupis de Camargo is historically important in this early period of development of ballet. She was a star in Paris having made her debut at the Paris Opera when she was sixteen and was famous for her technical virtuosity, performing entrechats, a step previously danced only by men. Although in the picture on this compact she is wearing shoes with high-heels, she is reputed to be the first dancer to wear special soft slipper-style dancing shoes. Also, as can be seen in the picture, she shortened her skirts to show her footwork - very daring! If you google La Camargo, you will see images and find out more. Images taken from 18th Century paintings with their romance and femininity are popular subjects to decorate compacts.
from Sue Thompson.
Sue is new to compact collecting and would like to know how many different Kigu basket compacts were made. Also, how many different globe patterns were made by Pygmalion. Any pictures will much appreciated.
Jenny Duncan replies:
Sue, to the BCCS and thank you for your
interesting, although challenging, question. For
Kigu related questions I do recommend
browsing the Kigu website www.vintage-compacts.com
which you can find by following the Link
from our own site.
Turned pattern with Jewel Mount
insert w/large Jewel Mount
Floral Perspex insert
Kigu made a number of variations in each
category of these models and neither the
website nor catalogues show exactly how many
variations were made. For
example, the website shows a “Bouquet” with
a Perspex floral insert of a red rose, but
other colours and arrangements of these
flowers are known to collectors. The
1950s Glamour exhibition at Convention 2011
displayed a Kigu “Bouquet” with a pink
floral arrangement, as well as an example of
a jewelled mount which differs from that
shown on the Kigu website. All
this makes collecting exciting and gives you
something to look out for!
designs are as follows:
Impressed map of
Marked “PYGMALION No.1960 Made in
are similar Pygmalion globes marked “Made in
pattern with a wavy stripe. Also, marked
“PYGMALION No.1960 Made in
floral design with a mesh-style pattern
interspersed with polished metal. Marked
“PYGMALION No.1960 Made in
Heidi Melhuish replies:
As regards the Globes, I have a goldtone example with the world map, but I have seen one of these compacts in gold and silvertone. I think the seas were silvertone and the continents were goldtone, but it was a few years ago and could easily have been the other way around!