The Art of S. T. Dupont Paris

S. T. Dupont Olympio Laque de Chine & Gold Fountain Pen

With prestigious materials and impeccable craftsmanship, S.T. Dupont’s reputation was forged as a leading luxury luggage maker with true pedigree. The company’s client book included royalty, world leaders, screen legends and style icons, living up to Lucien Dupont’s motto:

‘Make it more beautiful. Make it expensive. Make it innovative.’

Currently Available S. T. Dupont products

The Chinese Lacquer Process

The use of lacquer in China goes back traditionally to legendary times. It is made from the sap of the tree Rhus vernicifera a.k.a. Chinese lacquer tree which is indigenous to China and Korea.

The sap of the tree is white or grayish in colour and about the consistency of molasses. Once extracted, it turns yellow-brown and then black on exposure to air. It is strained through hempen cloth to remove physical impurities, after being pounded and stirred in shallow wooden tubs to give it uniform liquidity. It is then slightly heated over a slow fire or in hot sunshine, stirred again to evaporate excess moisture, and stored in airtight vessels.

Before applying onto a base material, the lacquer is heat-treated and coloured. Curing the applied sap requires “drying” it in a warm, humid chamber or closet for 12 to 24 hours where parts of it polymerizes to form a clear, hard, and waterproof surface.

Artistic application and decoration of lacquer can be a long process, requiring many hours or days of careful and repetitive layers and drying times. Products coated with lacquer are recognizable by an extremely durable and glossy finish.

The manufacture of the first S. T. Dupont lighter began in 1939. It was a gold lighter, integrated into the briefcase of Yadavindra-Singh, maharajah of Patiala, India.

The process of making a Laque de Chine S. T. Dupont lighter (in French).

S. T. Dupont Links

S. T. Dupont Official website.

Theo’s Vintage S. T. Dupont archive of product photos and advertisements.