A beautifully decorated Volupté cigarette case from the 1940s. The engraved and enameled design features animals of Asia and the Middle East on a background of leafy vines. It is in remarkably good condition, and still functions perfectly for its intended purpose or may be used as a decorative case to carry cash, business cards, or any of a number of other items.
VOLUPTÉ INC. was founded in 1920 in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey. The company was a leading producer of costume jewelry, and is noted for its elegant, functional compacts, cigarette cases, purses and costume pieces, especially items produced from the 1930s through the ’50s. Among their most popular products were shaped, portable vanity items, advertised as “small enough to carry in the pocketbook.” Such Volupté purse items captured the interest and dollars of prominent fashion leaders including glamorous movie stars who found such portable fashion accessories to be “must- have” essentials. Produced in sterling silver, brass, aluminum and nickel, often decorated with enamel, gilt or artwork, Volupté purse items were eventually some of the company’s top sellers worldwide.
Volupté emerged as a market leader in the 1940s and ’50s, producing a range of elegant functional compacts, that epitomized the glamour of the 40’s & 50’s. While hundreds of compact manufacturers competed to win the favor of stylish ladies, Volupté epitomized Hollywood glamour. Vanity cases, and carryalls which are highly prized by today’s collectors further established the Volupté brand as true American Hollywood glamour. In addition to manufacturing elegant vanity cases, Volupté created costume jewelry, cigarette cases and accessories such as carryalls, lighters, and pill boxes. They were considered to be one of the most adventurous and ingenious American compact makers and were famed for their 'novelty compacts' which were very popular around this time. In terms of vanities the word novelty refers to a powder compact which has another function. For example: A music box. Or the novelty would have the appearance of another item. For example: The Petite Boudoir made by Volupté to resemble Marie Antoinette's favorite dressing table!
The firm is well known for the exotic and very beautiful enamel lid decorations on their compacts and carryalls. One designer, Richard T. Gaige (1907 - 1992) worked for Volupté before and after WWII in a freelance capacity and produced the artwork for a great number of their products. Advertisements featured the comment, “Volupté reflects the prettiest faces” and stated availability “wherever fine compacts are sold.” These were considered to be upmarket. A November 1950 ad in Glamour Magazine positions them as collectible. “Now your Volupté compacts serve a double purpose! You use one each day as a beauty accessory–and you display your entire collection in your home to add new excitement and glamour to your decoration! ’Collector’s Items’ by Volupté are exquisitely wrought compacts…gleaming examples of the jeweler’s art… each worth saving and cherishing, as fine as a beloved heirloom.” At the top of the ad, actress Dorothy Lamour proclaimed, ”I get a thrill out of collecting these compacts!”
Many Volupté vanity cases were particularly well made. Just a slight push on the thumb catch activates a spring-loaded catch which ensures the lid glides open. Compartments for face powder, cigarettes and money ensure this is all you need for that evening out when you do not wish to take a handbag, which is essentially why the carryall came into being. Also, this maker often included clever inventions, such as - a drop down metal mirror which makes the most of the space, because paper money could be stored behind the mirror. Satinized surfaces gave the appearance of luxury. This technique was achieved by the gilded metal surfaces being lacquered. This lacquer was then brushed, and the finish looked like satin.
Volupté was purchased by Shields, Inc. of Attleboro, MA in 1957, but by the 1960s, demand for heavy purse compacts had faded as lighter, disposable plastic versions became popular. The company ceased operations in the 1960s
||1920 to 1949
||1940 to 1949
|Country of Manufacture
||This piece has an attribution mark
||Vintage, Mid-Century, Modernist
Excellent — This vintage piece is in near original condition. It may show minimal traces of use and/or have slight restorations.
||Gold, teal, yellow, red, white