A History of Bakelite
The first completely synthetic man-made substance was discovered in 1907, when the Belgian Leo Baekeland, a New York chemist, developed a liquid resin that he named Bakelite. Leo Beakeland went to the USA as an immigrant in 1889. Baekeland had developed an apparatus - which he called a Bakelizer - that enabled him to vary heat and pressure precisely so as to control the reaction of volatile chemicals. Using this pot-like apparatus, Baekeland developed a new liquid (bakelite resin) that rapidly hardened and took the shape of its container. Once hardened, the resin would form an exact replica of any vessel that contained it. This new material would not burn, boil, melt, or dissolve in any commonly available acid or solvent. This meant that once it was firmly set, it would never change. This one benefit made it stand out from previous "plastics." While celluloid-based substances could be melted down innumerable times and reformed, Bakelite was the first thermoset plastic which would retain its shape and form under any circumstances.
The magic of the plastics such as Bakelite was, in fact, the beginning of a new era. Plastic material, and Bakelite as well, made a lot possible in producing new products. Bakelite was also known as "the material of the thousand uses". Bakelite could be added to almost any material - such as softwood - and instantly make it more durable and effective. Numerous products began to be manufactured based on this new material. One of the sectors of society most interested in its development was the military. The US Government saw Bakelite opening the door to production of new weaponry and lightweight war machinery that steel could not match. In fact, Bakelite was a key ingredient in most of the weapons used in the Second World War.
Bakelite was also used for domestic purposes such as electrical insulators. For this purpose it proved to be more effective than any other material available - so effective, in fact, tthat it is still used as such today. Bakelite is electrically resistant, chemically stable, heat-resistant, shatter-proof and neither cracks, fades, creases, nor discolors from exposure to sunlight, dampness or sea salt.
Links of Interest
They carry a wonderful selection of vintage Bakelite jewelry
Vintage Accessories at Roslyn's Bag O'Jewels
Come Find The Glamour Of The 40s. They carry vintage accessories for women and men. Some of the items you will see there are vintage hats, vintage bow and long ties, vintage purses, and bakelite.
Deja Voodoo Bakelite bangles
Specializing in Designer Vintage Costume and Silver Jewelry from Native American and Mexican to American and European Mod.
All Vintage Jewelry
Vintage costume jewelry, rhinestones to bakelite, coral to cameos at very affordable prices.
Copyright © 1999-2016 Sedona Antiques. All Rights Reserved. No part of this web site, images, graphics, text, or code may be reproduced without the express written permission of Sedona Antiques. Permission is granted to link this website.