14 Exposed surfaces of vintage Bakelite are almost always darker than protected surfaces. Some 5,000 years ago, we learned how to make alloys of copper, and the Bronze Age began. The most common exceptions are pieces of genuine Bakelite that have recently been completely polished or cleaned and the original patina has been removed. Normal oxidation provides a valuable clue whether a suspected piece is true Bakelite (phenolic resin) or a look-alike material. Remember, even if a piece passes the cotton swab test, it doesn't mean the hardware is original. Red and black, widths 7/8″ to 1½″, priced $60 to $110. Fig. Note tarnishing in hinge, common in vintage hardware.  Phenolic resins have been commonly used in … Reproductions are now common and there has been a steady increase in reworked and "married" pieces. Fig. Since genuine Bakelite produces a patina, outer surfaces on truly vintage pieces should normally be darker than protected inner surfaces. It ushered in the rapid growth of plastics that we now use every day in so many ways to improve our lives: medical devices that help save lives … athletic gear that enables peak performance … packaging that helps keep our food safer and fresher … clothing that keeps us cool or warm …. Bakelite is made from carbolic acid (phenol) and formaldehyde and is referred to as a phenolic resin. Bakelite products included jewelry and the cases for radios. All the testing products cause eye and skin irritation and should be used carefully; rubber gloves are recommended. When testing Bakelite, always use safe, nondestructive tests like those described in this article. And that’s not just because I’m Professor Plastics. This article will explain how originals were made, the simple tests anyone can use to separate genuine Bakelite from look-alike, and the common warning signs of new, fake and reproduction pieces. Galalith—made primarily from milk protein and formaldehyde—was invented in the 1890s and enabled the huge growth in costume jewelry (but eventually was eclipsed by other plastics). The common use of natural “plastic” substances—such as rubber latex from plants and shellac from secretions of the lac beetle—began in earnest about three centuries ago, although some had been used off and on over a very long time. 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 … Warning Signs of Look-alike, Copies and Reproductions. Bakelite Plastic Properties Bakelite is the trade name for phenol formaldehyde resin. Unlike other plastics, authentic Bakelite oxidizes over the years developing a patina which changes the surface color. Remember That Time You Really Needed Plastic? Bakelite is expensive but too expensive for a lot of products that customers would buy in general. Read about Art Deco Radios from all over the world. Fig. Discover the best Bakelite Clock designers. Bakelite is still produced. An important product of polymerization is Bakelite, a synthetic resin that is made by reacting phenol with formaldehyde. Besides being flammable, it grew brittle and fell apart over time. Fig. Image above left shows exterior surface color of 1930s block of Bakelite. That’s so both because of the novelty factor of it and the idea of collecting something with so much history in it, as well as the fact that Bakelite jewelry was indeed different then than what it is now. Fig. There is a surprising amount of original unfinished Bakelite stock that has survived. Celluloid—made primarily from plant cellulose and camphor—was created in the 1850s and still is in wide use. An original carver, working by the hour or piece-rate, would spend more time finishing exposed surfaces rather than finishing hidden surfaces that were not exposed. Most non-Bakelite products are not affected by the products, but you should always be careful and carefully wash and wipe dry all tested areas to prevent any possible long-term changes. Collectors should examine and handle lots of Bakelite … An example of typical color change is shown in Fig. 7 Dark green Bakelite. Bakelite (and Galalith before it) introduced plastics to the fashion world, to be followed by nylon, polyester, spandex, and more. After the 1950s, a large variety of plastics appeared in the marketplace and edged out Bakelite in all but a few specialized (mostly electrical) uses. Original metal findings almost always shows some tarnish or even rust. Today, Hyman says, "The prices have skyrocketed." But it wasn’t always this way. 8 Dark red Bakelite. For thousands of years, humans used stone to fashion tools. Modern hard plastics produced in a mold, virtually always have a mold seam (Fig. There is a surprising amount of original unfinished Bakelite stock that has survived. Authentic Bakelite, made piece by piece with hand finishing, never has a mold seam. There is reproduction bakelite being made. Bakelite was first used as insulators against heat and electricity. New pins are commonly glued to inexpensive Bakelite clothing buttons to make a piece of "jewelry." Insides of bracelets, for example, should be lighter in color than the exposed outer surfaces. As the industrial revolution created huge demand for materials, chemists began seriously searching for new sources of materials—and new materials. A few partially synthetic plastics were invented in the 1800s. Fig. 21. If you wanted to make bracelets, for example, you'd extrude a long tube with the rough shape (Fig. Shown here as knob and handle on Art Deco chrome creamer. Bakelite's unique properties lent itself to extrusion casting. 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