Think of a Ladies Vintage Compact and one of the first names that pops into mind is Stratton. A British company who originally made knitting needles they diversified into compacts in the 1920s. At firs, they were importing parts from the USA and the compacts were quite small just a couple of inches across.
They manufactured the compacts in the UK from the 1930s with most of its factories being destroyed by WWII bombing. They re-built and had huge success during the 1950s through the 1960s and into the 70’s. Fashions are always changing and makeup is no exception. Few ladies carried compacts from then onwards and in 1997 they closed in the UK. The name was sold on and compacts are still made in the Stratton name but not in the UK nor by the same company.
The shapes each have a different name. The small early ones are Stratenoid, the round one is the Roundette. The Princess has a fluted edge and the Royale is square but with a similar edge effect. The Camera is large and square.
The compacts differ inside for loose or pressed powder. There are even some which are convertible so can be used for either. Those Stratton compacts for loose powder often have an inner lid which prevents the makeup going everywhere when you open the outer lid. The inner lid may have the well known “compact in hand logo”. This denotes easy opening – You can pop the lid open with one hand and avoid spoiling your finger nails.
Looking at the back of the vintage compact can help us to tell how old it is. A design that looks like a spiral with a series of rings one inside each other. These are circa 1930s. A series of parallel lines tends to be 1950s. A scrolling design is 1950s through 1960s. All over stars on the back was mid 1950s to 1960s. The addition of the word ” Stratton” into the stars was mid 1960s into the 1970s. Later ones in the 1980s have spots in the design on the reverse. I have seen notebooks from the 1990s with a woven effect on the back
Care and Condition.
The condition of a vintage powder compact is very important. They really do have to be first class to have any value unless it is a very rare and desirable one. Clean them a little with a clean dry cloth with maybe a tiny touch of clear window cleaner or meths. It is not easy to replace the mirrors. If you need a new sifter or pad or even a fabric cover I suggest you look for a tatty compact on a car boot or charity shop . Often they have the fabric extras in good condition. It may be possible to buy new ones but they would not be original Strattons.
Anything from a couple of Pounds to over £100 depending on rarity, desirability and condition. Older more striking ones are generally better. There is a popular series of Ballet dancers from the 1950s which are worth looking out for as are ones in special shapes such as a Queens Crown. Sets including other handbag items such as a notebook or lipstick holder all in their original boxes are good too. If you really want to know then I suggest a search on eBay – look for sold items only. There is also a Compact Collectors Club who may help but you would need to join first.
Where to Buy:
I have already mentioned Charity shops, car Boots, and Ebay. Antique Fairs can be a good source and AntiquesAvenue.co.uk are proud to offer a range of vintage compacts including Strattons.
If you want to see more then there is a book published by Millers called “Powder Compacts – A collectors Guide”. In this book there are several pages devoted to Stratton. This is now difficult to find and a collectors item in its own right. Amazon do have some copies but they are not cheap.
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