c1950s Compact and Lipstick Set by Richard Hudnut, USA
This ornately-decorated powder compact and lipstick set effortlessly evokes vintage glamour and sophistication! The set bears the name of American perfume and cosmetics tycoon Richard Hudnut (1855-1928). Hudnut played an important role in the development of the cosmetics industry in America during the last decades of the nineteenth century and the start of the twentieth. A youthful visit to France had inspired him to return home with the aim of encouraging American women to embrace French styles of cosmetics and perfume. From small beginnings in the New York City drugstore owned by his father, Hudnut’s product range and success steadily grew, aided by his innovative sales technique of sending customers products to try ‘on approval’. The year 1915 saw the introduction of one of Hudnut’s most popular perfumes – ‘Three Flowers’. In 1916, Hudnut sold his well-established and highly profitable business to William R Warner & Co, and retired to his chateau on the French Riviera. Interestingly, visitors to the chateau included Hudnut’s stepdaughter and her husband Rudolph Valentino.
The company that bore Hudnut's name continued to prosper during the 1920s and 1930s. The ‘Three Flowers’ perfume range was extended to incorporate a variety of cosmetic and skincare products, and Hudnut’s ‘Du Barry’ brand was widely promoted and highly successful. The company produced brochures with titles such as 'The Lovely Skin You Can Have' and ‘Be a Du Barry Beauty’. In addition to supplying information about Hudnut products (and thereby boosting their sales), the brochures gave advice on skincare routines, plus tips on applying and co-ordinating make-up. We particularly like the idea of the Du Barry Success School (introduced during the early 1940s), which could be attended as classes at the Hudnut beauty salon on New York's Fifth Avenue, or taken as a correspondence course: the School promoted the idea of 'Beauty is Your Duty' and offered courses for 'the enhancement of Face, Figure, Fascination and Fitness'. During the mid-1950s, William R Warner & Co became Warner-Lambert, and in 2000, it was purchased by leading pharmaceuticals company Pfizer - the Du Barry skincare and cosmetics brand remains available in the United States today.
We can certainly imagine this particular Hudnut item being carried as part of an elegant evening ensemble! The compact and lipstick are themselves richly decorated, but they are also contained within a neat carrying case, whose fabric exterior features a floral design worked with shining, metallic thread. Opening the press-stud fastening at the front of the case reveals an interior lined with fabric showing a silky sheen. The name 'RICHARD HUDNUT' is printed onto the underside of the lid in gold-coloured lettering. The lower part of the case has been divided into two compartments - the left compartment holds the square-shaped powder compact, whilst the right contains the lipstick holder. Both the compact and lipstick holder are made from gleaming goldtone metal, and their decoration was undoubtedly designed to be seen and admired! The lid of the compact is embellished with patterns formed from gold and silver-coloured wire, some sections of which have a coil-like appearance. These curving, metallic patterns are set against a creamy-coloured, fabric background. The lid frame and the sides of the compact display smooth and highly-polished goldtone metal, whilst the base has been given a 'brushed' finish. Pressing the catch at the front of the compact reveals an interior with framed glass mirror, and a separate compartment for loose powder. The shining compartment door is inscribed 'RICHARD HUDNUT NEW YORK DISTRIBUTOR', and it is opened via a catch at its right side. The compartment itself is fitted with a felt edging (to minimise powder leakage). Resting over the compartment door is the original powder puff, whose fabric upper layer displays the Richard Hudnut name. A square of cellophane (which we presume was placed over the puff) is also present.
The design of the lipstick holder is equally eyecatching, with its ridged sides and patterned metal top piece - the latter displays a circle of glittering clear glass stones, and a faux pearl provides the centre feature. Removing the decorated outer case reveals the smooth metal inner section which still contains the lipstick; this is a bold red shade, and a paper label attached to the base of the holder reveals the shade name to be 'Radiant Red'. The inner section of the holder also shows the same inscription as seen on the powder compartment door. The set is accompanied by the original outer box, whose lid displays a logo formed from Richard Hudnut's initials.
Manufacturer: Richard Hudnut
Country of manufacture:
Product ref: C182 - SOLD
Excellent. Both the compact and lipstick holder remain in very appealing condition, aided by not having been used, and by being stored within the stiffened fabric case and the sturdy outer box. Any faults which occur are age related, rather than as a result of use. The goldtone metal which forms the compact is free from dents, scuffs and scratches, and displays a gleaming finish (both on the exterior and interior). The eyecatching patterns on the lid remain intact, and the only sign which gives away the age of the item is some discolouration to the silvertone metallic elements along the outer edges (giving them a darker appearance). We have previously come across the same scenario on bags of the c1950s (which have been decorated with metallic thread), and therefore, it is a fault which is perhaps not unexpected.
The interior of the compact is in very well-preserved condition - the mirror is completely clear, and the powder compartment door is bright and reflective. The absence of any powder residue inside the compartment (including on its felt edging), or on the puff, confirms that the compact has not seen use. The lower layer of the puff is uneven on its left side, but because the puff is in otherwise pristine condition, we assume that this has always been the case. Both the inner and outer catches close securely.
The lipstick holder is a similarly impressive item. Its goldtone metal shows no dents, scuffs or discolouration (on either the outer or the inner sections). We have gently tested winding the lipstick up by a small amount, and the mechanism still works. Close examination of the lipstick itself reveals it has not been used (although there are a few little flecks that have attached themselves to its surface over time). It is particularly pleasing that there are no missing glass stones, and no damage to the faux pearl - the stones continue to display a bright and sparkling appearance.
The fabric case is in robust condition, and its metallic floral patterns remain attractive. The shorter sides of the case show some browning, and we think this is due to the paper interior of the cardboard box becoming browner with age, consequently affecting these areas of the fabric. The interior of the case is clean, with the only marks being on the underside of its lid (where the metallic decoration on the compact has rubbed against the fabric). The outer box remains robust, just revealing some superficial wear to its white paper exterior, plus a mark left on the base by an original label. In our view, this set is both a highly desirable example of the Hudnut brand, and also a glamorous reminder of a bygone era...
Material: Compact: goldtone metal and metallic wire. Lipstick holder: goldtone metal, glass stones and imitation pearl. Outer Case: stiffened fabric exterior, fabric interior
Measurements: Compact: w:61mm x h:61mm. Lipstick holder: h:63mm. Outer case: w:93mm x h:75mm