While hundreds of compact manufacturers brought goods to market through the years, certain makers rose to more prominence than others. Volupte emerged as market leader in the 1940s and ’50s, producing a range of elegant, functional compacts, vanity cases, and carryalls highly prized by today’s collectors.

Volupte round compact

A round Volupte compact with a floral printed cover. Photo (c) Jenn Waltner 2012.

Cases came in all shapes: square, rectangular, round, butterfly, apple, and oval. In the late 1930s, Volupte introduced “Whisk-er,” a brush-fitted case designed to remove stray powder from the mirror and ensure a clear reflection. Other innovations included musical cases, the Petite Boudoir compact with folding legs, the Swinglok closure bar, and the Golden Gesture hand-shaped series (which will be explored in depth in a future post).

Ads featured the tagline, “Volupte reflects the prettiest faces” and touted availability “wherever fine compacts are sold.” These were upscale cases. A November 1948 ad in Glamourmagazine positions them as collectible. “Now your Volupte compacts serve a double purpose!  You use one each day as a beauty acessory–and you display your entire collection in your home to add new excitement and glamour to your decoration! ‘Collector’s Items’ by Volupte 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!”

Volupte Sophisticase box

The box for a Swinglok Sophisticase: "Palm-size carryall...for evening or the cocktail hour." Photo (c) Jenn Waltner 2010

A line named the Sophisticase reinforced the compacts’ high-end appeal, as did the company’s Fifth Avenue address. Volupte owners possessed unrivaled beauty, polish and poise…and fabulous accessories with lasting glamour and collectible value.

Many Volupte compacts rank among my personal favorites due to their fine craftsmanship and careful attention to detail. From delicate demitasse snuff boxes adorned with birds and ivy to the stunning silk faille-cloaked carryalls, these cases reflect ’40s and ’50s femininity at its finest.