The first mention discovered of Rialto is in the July 1936 issue of Luggage & Leather Goods. At that time, the company was know as Rialto Button & Wood Products Co. The factory was located at 147 Baxter Street, New York City. The made wood frames, zipper pulls, locks and "ornaments of all styles."
By the time they placed the display ad on found page 58 of the August 1942 issue of Luggage & Leather Goods, Rialto had moved to 583 Broadway, the location of the Rialto Products factory in 1955. It is not currently known when the company changed its name and production focus to make the fabulous Lucite and Bakelite handbags for which they are so well loved by collectors. But the business's origins are a bit clearer!
The May 15, 1951 issue of the New York Times (page 45) carried the help wanted ad:
"Lucite Production Man
Experienced sample maker and foreman to manufacture lucite handbags. Must make own setups & jigs & take complete charge. Rialto Products, 583 Broadway, NYC"
In column Getting Personal with Bag Supply Salesmen By PHIL SEIDELL in "Handbgags and Fashion Accessories," February 1950, page 108.
Abe (Rialto) Rothman thinks wood frames will be coming back one of these days.
January 1954 Rialto offerings for Spring as seen in Handbags & Accessories, page 46
This example shows the classic Rialto proprietary Lucite Stirrup and Turn style latch. Inflation has increased by 623% from January, 1954 to July, 2005, making the retail price range for these bags in today's dollars between $93 and $103.
Rialto Products exhibited at the 1954 January Handbags & Accessories Show at the Hotel McAlpin, New York City.
The Fall 1954 line is introduced on page 32 of the July 1954 issue of Handbags & Accessories.
Rialto lucite bags for Spring 1955 are featured on page 45 of the January 1955 issue of Handbags & Accessories.
Rialto uses new see-through effects
"Many new ideas are incorporated into the spring plastic handbag collection of Rialto Products. See-through effects are achieved by combining carved Incite box shapes with trimming of shell, gray or pearl. Similar combinations are worked with lids only of carved lucite.
A new group of after-five bags in moderate sizes are pretty and theatrical looking. They have a jeweled effect in over-all plastic material.
Larger daytime bags are shown in vanity types lined with moire and fitted with purse and mirror. Important too is the collection of gleaming black plastic with the "patent leather look." Pearl gray continues strongly for spring in many styles."
The March 1955 issue of Handbags & Accessories featured an extensive article on the new plastics being used in handbag design. Several Rialto bags were includes as examples. 1955Plastics
Note the button latch trim gracing this bag. Buttons like this are proprietary to Rialto bags and can be used to attribute unmarked examples.
The display ad on page 39 of the same issue provides more details about this molded acetate basket bag. The stardust incarnation of this bag was one of the first I ever owned. It was several decades later before I found out the maker of the bag!
Saks featured this same bag in its April 24, 1955 display ad in the New York Times, page 53. "The Basket-Box $4.99. Gala handbag inn shimmering plastic by Rialot products. The beloved basket, noe in gleaming molded plastic to suit all your summer needs. Hinged lip, topped with cheery flowers and fruit....high hooped plastic handle. Will not chip, peel or crack, wipes clean with a damp cloth. Enchanting colors too: white-pearl, pink-pearl, black-pearl or stardust."
Vary your collection to meet day, evening, sport and dress needs.
Keep an eye on the future — continue to show resort bags now
"HEAVILY CARVED LUCITE makes decorative lid for mail box shaped shell and lucite bag. Curved clear handle is also carved. Shell, pearl, black and gray. Snap lock has button decoration. Rialto Products" (Handbags & Accessories December 1955, page 20)
Bags for Spring 1956 were presented on January 3, 1956 by agreement as a member of the National Authority for the Ladies Handbag Industry. 1956NationalAuthorityMembers
Rialto's production priorites are indicated in this Help Wanted ad in the Sept 16, 1962 page 442 New York Times.
FOREMAN_PLASTIC & WOOD
"fabricated handbag frames. Must be experienced production and do own setups. Good Salary. Rialto Products, 594 Broadway, NYC."