KIGU - Four generations of powder compacts
Josef Kiaschek, a master Hungarian Goldsmith, claimed to make the first powder compact early last century. His son, Gustav, founded a workshop in Budapest to hand-make compacts, calling the business KI-GU (after Kiaschek-Gustav).
Gustav went on to have three sons, Charles, Paul and George... Charles moved to New York to become a goldsmith, while George emigrated to London in 1939, where he founded his own powder compact company - KIGU of London. However, the outbreak of WWII meant that George’s technical knowledge and new factory were needed by the UK government. It wasn’t until peace time that he could start manufacturing compacts on a large scale. Third Kiaschek brother Paul also joined the firm after the war.
KIGU quickly gained a reputation for quality and innovative design. In 1949, the Royal family bought KIGU compacts at the British Industries Fair. By 1956, KIGU had become the largest British firm specialising in compacts. Over 300 workers were employed across their three UK factories. They manufactured over 600 designs of compacts, powder bowls and trinket boxes.
KIGU became a household name, and exported across the world.
George Kiaschek died in 1977, leaving the company to his son David who was just out of university. Unfortunately the boom times for compacts were over, and KIGU was acquired by A.S Brown (manufacturer of Mascot compacts) in the early 1980s.
Finally, Laughton & Sons. acquired both the Mascot and KIGU brands to add to their own Stratton range.... and there we are, back to Stratton!
With thanks to David Morley, Secretary of The Huddersfield Collectors Club for his kind invitation, David Kiaschek for his amazing website archives, and to the Rev. MacDonald for joining me last night to speak about his Elgin American compact collection (more about this shortly!)