Date: c. 1900s
Origin: Great Britain
Oktis brand ‘corset shields’ were designed to be sewn to the interiors of corset waists and purported to ‘double the life’ of the garments by preventing the corset bones from breaking at stress points. The shields are created from vertical bones of ‘zairoid’, a metal that the manufacturers claimed was as flexible as steel and rust proof, encased in cotton casings with a horizontal waist tape. This product was first sold in the late 1890s, and gained popularity at the turn of the century, and was developed and patented by William Pretty & Sons corsets of Ipswich (Suffolk, England).
The style of corset shown in the packaging illustration suggests that this example would have been sold in the 1900s. The packaging also advertises another product called the ‘Zarna’, a busk protector that claims to prevent busk breakage (indeed, the number of broken, damaged and replaced busks in extant 19th c. and early 20th c. corsetry suggests that this was a common problem). The ‘Zarna’ was also made of the same ‘zairoid’ metal used in the corset shields.
P&S Corsets (Pretty & Sons) were a major manufacturer of corsets as well as protective products, and appear to have been one of the only licensed European distributors for Warner’s coraline corsets. P&S unfortunately went into liquidation in the 1930s and were bought out by R & W H Symington & Co Ltd.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska