The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
2010/87/1 Picnic case and contents, Rexine cloth / metal / plastic / glass, made by Brexton, England, 1950s, used in Australia, 1950-1989. Click to enlarge.

Picnic case and contents

The popularity of picnic cases designed to be carried in the motor car runs parallel to the spread in popularity and availability of the car, seeming to reach a peak in the early 1960s. The picnic basket or case reflects Australians' increased leisure time and, the desire to bring domestic comforts into weekend or holiday pursuits like picnics, barbecues, camping and caravanning.

The manufacture of the various components of this set reflect the changes in and development of the new plastics now so much part of everything we buy. The suitcase fabric is made from Rexine, a polyvinyl upholstery cloth, made by Armonde Ltd, Leather Cloth and ICI in the late 1940s and represented in the Museum's important plastics collection. The plastic used in the cups and saucers is also of particular interest, being Bandalasta, the name given to a series of early plastic wares made from a synthetic resin by British chemists in 1920s. The Trademarked Thermos contained in this set is also clad in Bandalasta.

Vanessa Mack, research volunteer and Anni Turnbull, curator 2010


Object No.


Object Statement

Picnic case and contents, Rexine cloth / metal / plastic / glass, made by Brexton, England, 1950s, used in Australia, 1950-1989

Physical Description

Green Rexine picnic hamper or suitcase, containing a two person afternoon tea picnic set. Picnic set includes: Thermos flask, with cork and cup, 2 cups, 2 saucers; two teaspoons, two glass jars with lids for sugar and milk, and a green painted tin, with hinged lid.

The case is made of green Rexine, a trademark for a polyvinyl upholstery cloth, with black metal handle and silvered metal fittings / studs and clasp and hinges at back which allow the lid to remain upright when open. Lid has white paper lining with blue leather fittings holding 2 saucers and 2 teaspoons.

The thermos is made of cream Bandalasta, (a Trademarked early plastic) with an internal glass vacuum flask. On the base 'Thermos (1925) Ltd. Made in England / London'. The cup is plastic and printed with Thermos Made in England. Registered Trade Mark. Cork stopper has black plastic top. Is now wrapped in cling wrap.

The two cups are also of cream Bandalasta and are nesting ,with a smaller lower section which fits into the other cup. The cup base fits securely into the saucer. A small handle is on the upper section of the cup. On base: 'Bandalasta Regd / 159 / Made in England / (numbers obscured) Reg.BES. 735210 (?)'

The two saucers are of cream Bandalasta plastic, with high sides, and a deeper centre section to hold the cup base securely. On base: 'Bandalasta / Regd / 153 / Made in England.'

The milk jar, is a small rectangular shaped glass jar with a round slightly domed cream lid, with ridged sections on the sides to assist turning. On base of jar, '13927-1 / Brexton / U G B'

The sugar jar is a circular glass jar, with slightly domed lid with ridged flat sections to assist turning. The lid has the original paper liner. On base: 'R 777/? 7 / U G B". It still contains sugar, somewhat solidified, and a broken plastic spoon.

There are two teaspoons which are standard metal silver-plate teaspoons (Old English pattern), with bowl, narrow waist widening to rounded handle end. On the back: 'Grosvenor Plate EPNS At (numbers obscured)'.

The tin is painted green, with a hinged lid, silvered on inside. Originally empty and designed for food, it now contains: A plastic bag which is lining the base and is printed with red lettering: 'New Times / The Monthly publication of the South Australian / Synod of the Uniting Church of Australia. registered by Australia Post-- publication No SAR 0255. If undelivered please return to: New Times, 33 Pirie Street, Adelaide, ?S.A. 5000'; A small glass vial with aplastic lid, containing salt; A used cup cake wrapper, yellow , green and pink dots on white; A small cylindrical glass vial, containing pepper, the label of which reads: '200 "SAXIN' trademark. Tabloid Brand, one or more in place of as many lumps of sugar may be added to tea, coffee, cocoa, etc. Made in England 1794 Ex. Burroughs Wellcome & Co'; a bayonet style tin opener made of steel; a small fruit knife with a brown wooden handle, 'Stainless Steel Japan' printed on the blade; A larger knife, with a brown wooden handle, marked 'Chrome Vanadium. Prestige, Made in England' on the much worn blade; 2 plastic forks, with three narrow tines. One stamped on back with '12', the second '22'; 2 large white plastic 'DECOR' teaspoons, one broken. 'Made in Australia'; One new dish cloth of open weave type; one faded, used but untorn tea towel, with '1980 Calendar, Peace and Plenty', at bottom edge; One detachable handle, cream plastic, use unknown



On the outside lid, left hand top corner, written in copperplate letters in white paint/ chalk, now faded, E MP
Clasp stamped with British made/ Pat. No 185363, 173997
Label inside lid: Brexton/ Made in England
On base of Thermos:Thermos (1925) Ltd. Made in England/ London. On lid: Thermos Made in England. Registered Trade Mark.
Cup: On base: Bandalasta Regd/ 159/ Made in England/ (numbers obscured) Reg.BES. 735210 (?)
Saucers: On base: Bandalasta/ Regd/ 153/ Made in England.
Milk jar: on base 13927-1/Brexton/ U G B
Sugar jar: On base: R 777/? 7/U G B.
Teaspoons: Grosvenor Plate EPNS At.



250 mm


120 mm



Brexton was the trade name of a company, Brookes & Sexton which first produced their own picnic sets using Bandalasta products in 1932. The company also produced sets under the name Sirram. Brookes and Sexton was absorbed by the Antler travel luggage company, as the Harrison Sheldon Group in 1962, Manufacture during the 70s and 80s was carried out at Kingswinford Near Dudley in the West Midlands (Black Country). Then in the mid eighties the compnay was then transferred to Antler.

The top of the range products sold through Harrods, with fine Somerset baskets,containing Worcestor Porcelain and Stewart Chrystal glassware.

Bandalasta is the tradename of a type of plastic developed from a synthetic resin, thiourea or urea formaldahyde, in the 1920s by British Chemists. Bandalasta was produced by Brookes and Adams of Birmingham, England at the end of the 1920s, early 1930s. It was extensively used in high quality picnic sets assembled by other companies including Brexton, Coracle, Garrison and flat sets like this were manufactured in the early 1950s and came with 2, 4, 6, or more rarely, sets of 8 plates and utensils, and were made like a small suitcase, from wicker or Rexine with lids opening upward.
Rexine is a trademarked form of artificial leather, now much used in bookbinding. It is a polyvinyl upholstery cloth made by Armonde Ltd, Leather Cloth C. Ltd and ICI, Imperial Chemical Industries, England, 1947 (see: H4851)

Many of the fastenings fitted to Brexton picnic hampers of the 1950s were fitted with plastic 'releasable fastenings' patented by Brexton and Thomas James Walker Brookes (no relation to Brookes in Brookes and Sexton). This picnic set has metal fastenings and therefore may be earlier, or because it is only a two person set, cheaper.



This picnic set was purchased by the donor in a small antique shop in Robe, South Australia, c. 2001

The development of picnic hampers and sets is closely linked to the spread and availability of the motor car, as they were designed to be taken in the car when a picnic outing was planned. This example is an afternoon tea set, and would have been used for the once very common Sunday Drive in the Country. It is in excellent condition, but has obviously been well used, and from the evidence of the unofficial contents, until the 1980s.


Credit Line

Gift of Vanessa Mack, 2010

Acquisition Date

7 December 2010

Cite this Object


Picnic case and contents 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 January 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Picnic case and contents |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 January 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}