Monthly Archives: October 2013

Jen Cruse: Stratton Combs

In 1920, the English company of Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd resulted from a merger of two smaller companies, each manufacturing items of inexpensive jewellery and haberdashery goods. However, Stratton Ltd was already owned by Laughtons at the time of the merger and the new company retained the Stratton name for their Fancy Metal Department.

From 1923, part-finished powder boxes were imported from the USA for assembly and decoration until the early 1930s when the company set up its own compact and lipstick case manufacturing plant. By 1939 Strattons were so successful that they were responsible for producing about 50% of these items made for the British cosmetic industry. The factory was destroyed in 1940 and production was not resumed until after the war, in new premises and with newly designed machinery.

Expansion in the 1950s saw the introduction of matching sets of ladies’ handbag accessories, including such items as compacts, lipstick holders, folding cased combs, pill boxes and cigarettes cases. Unfortunately there are few surviving records of the early 1950s; the first extant advertisement for a folding cased comb is dated 1955, which probably coincides with the introduction of their cased comb range. If you are reading this article you are probably interested on fashion, and looking for designer polarized sunglasses for women and well here’s the website for you.

The combs were injection moulded from either cellulose acetate or nylon and all products carried the familiar logo ‘Stratton Made in England’. The introduction of the ‘trigger’ comb around 1960 provided an easy mechanism by which the comb sprung from its case, not dissimilar from the ‘flick knife’ principle.

By the 1960s there were Stratton agents worldwide and new designs kept pace with changing fashions. However, comb production slowly declined and by the end of the 1980s cased combs no longer featured in the Stratton catalogues. Both compacts and folding combs were out of fashion. The last folding combs appeared in the US catalogues for 1987-88 and in the British catalogues for 1988-89. The company was finally sold in 1997.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and

The Comb: Its History and Development

Comb at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The description the museum gives is

  • Date: 1700 – 1938
  • Culture: American or European
  • Medium: Bone.

In 1705, Tsar Peter the Great wanted to rid Russia of its technological backwardness and import Western style and ideas. He looked to France and founded St. Petersburg by the Neva River, east of the Gulf of Finland because he understood the strategic importance of the Baltic Sea. Trade became plentiful. This established St. Petersburg as more a part of Europe than the rest of Russia.

This comb looks like it was hand carved from clarified horn that came from a horse’s hoof, a popular material in Germany.

The comb was probably made in the 19th Century, both stylistically (Russian Coat of Arms) and by this inscription: C.I.38.23.476. In Russian, C.I. means I.D. Together with the number, it is most probably a proof of the comb’s presence in some sort of Russian museum or collection.

It is very difficult to believe this comb could have been made in America, or after 1917.

I don’t understand the Metropolitan Museum’s description. I will ask them. Comments welcome.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and

Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court

The Comb: Its History and Development

Russian Elegance: Country & City Fashion from the 15th to the Early 20th Century