|Green/Black with Shells unmarked|
|unmarked pearlized White Clutch|
Lucite purses got their start in the early 1950’s, when post war technology came up with the idea for a higher class of plastic called lucite. This material was ideal for use in boxy style handbags and could be manufactured in opaque or translucent color.
Decorations were easy to add and included confetti, shells, flowers, or just about anything else you could stick on a purse!
|Pieced Gray/Black pearlized Shoulder unmarked|
These purses became all the rage of bigger cities such as Miami and New York City and the handbag companies loved these bags because they could be made into unusual shapes easily. The most expensive lucite purses were made by Wilardy of New York and were showcased in major department stores throughout the country. Of course with popularity came replication and many cheaper versions were made.
|marked Y & S pearlized chain shoulder bag|
|Wilardy Original Black|
Do you think you have found a genuine high quality lucite purse? The best of the designers were Wilardy, Rialto, Llewllyn, Gilli Originals, Patricia of Miami, Evans, and Myles and Maxim. These companies marked their handbags on the inside with a stamp on the metal frames or a clear label. These bags are now collectors items that sell for large sums but, unfortunately, some of clear labels have fallen off with age making absolute identification difficult.
*****All Photos above of purses are what we currently have available*****
Wilardy History (http://wilardy.com/index.html)
Wilardy Originals began in 1946 as Handbag Specialties. The original offices and factory were in New York, and moved to Union City, New Jersey in 1953.
As a boy, I remember seeing all of these women's handbags in various states of completion throughout the factory and thinking, "I know my mom has lots of these but, where are these all going to, I don't see many of my friends' mothers with them?" What I didn't realize was that these were very exclusive items costing plenty at the time. These lucite purses were being sold in Hollywood, Miami, Paris, London, and Fifth Avenue in New York.
|1950's catalog pages|
These last few decades have shown a renewed interest in the Wilardy handbags, as they become sought-after collectibles. I'm grateful that my dad, Will, is here to experience the recognition of his work as the designer and owner of Wilardy during his own lifetime. Many books have been published on handbags, and in each one Wilardy is given a special place, known to have had the highest quality standards of design and manufacture from that time period. Perusing the catalogs and photos on this site should prove to be enjoyable for casual and serious collectors alike. Any serious research questions may be sent to Will.
- Billy Hardy 2008