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Sunday, July 21, 2013

BAKELITE--Some History and Facts

Bakelite Mahjong Game Tiles

Bakelite is another name for phenolic resin, an early form of plastic. Today, objects made from Bakelite are considered highly collectible, although in its glory days of the 1930s and 1940s, it was seen as an inexpensive alternative to high-end jewelry materials such as jade and pearl. One of its original uses was for pool balls. It is collectible in all its forms, including jewelry, buttons, radio cases, lamps, dresser sets, plus many more items. Bakelite could be used for electric insulators or as an insulating coating for automotive wiring.

Bakelite Bangle Bracelets



Belgian-born chemist named Leo Baekeland used his profits from the sale of Velox, a film treatment used by newspapers, to set up an independent lab in Yonkers, New York around the year 1901. Dr. Baekeland spent several years working on a durable coating for the lanes of bowling alleys, similar to today's protective polyurethane floor sealants. He combined carbolic acid and formaldehyde to form phenolic resin. This resin would remain pourable long enough to apply to hardwood flooring, but then become insoluble and impermeable after curing. Dr. Baekeland patented this early form of plastic and started his own Bakelite corporation around 1910.

I have included some photos so you can see just a small amount of the variety of items that were made. Probably the most desireable collected bakelite is jewelry, radios, and game pieces.



Baby Crib Toy

Buttons & Buckles

The below video will show you how to check your item to discover if it really is bakelite or just another form of plastic.

Below is a slideshow to show another way to verify besides the cream

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