History of Bakelite

7 Different Types of Bakelite Jewelry

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01 Solid Color Bakelite: Bakelite in solid colors is the most recognizable type even without employing testing measures. The most readily found colors are yellow, ranging from butter yellow to dark butterscotch, followed by various shades of green. Red is one of the most popular colors of Bakelite jewelry with collectors.All of these solid hues can be found with and without carving in a variety of shapes such as bangle bracelets, figural brooches, earrings, and dress clips like the pair shown here. 02 Marbled Bakelite: Marbled Bakelite contains more than one color swirled together. The majority of marbled pieces will have...

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Catalin vs Bakelite

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Strictly speaking, Catalin and Bakelite are both tradenames for the same compound: phenol formaldehyde. However, the terms are often used to distinguish cast phenolics (Catalin) and molded phenolics (Bakelite). Which terms are used largely depends on the circle in which you run. Radio collectors refer to the brightly-colored cast phenolics as catalin, despite the cast radio parts being manufactured by Bakelite, Catalin, Marblette, Monsanto, and Knoedler. Vintage Mah jong collectors refer to opaque game pieces as bakelite and more translucent or swirled pieces as catalin. Jewelry collectors refer to all phenolics as bakelite. Below, to avoid confusion, I capitalize the...

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Properties and Uses of Bakelite

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Bakelite can be molded, and in this regard was better than celluloid and also less expensive to make. Moreover, it could be molded very quickly, an enormous advantage in mass production processes where many identical units were produced one after the other. Bakelite is a thermosetting resin—that is, once molded, it retains its shape even if heated or subjected to various solvents. Bakelite was also particularly suitable for the emerging electrical and automobile industries because of its extraordinarily high resistance (not only to electricity, but to heat and chemical action as well). It was soon used for all non-conducting parts...

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Leo Baekeland and the Invention of Bakelite

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By 1899, the invention of Velox photographic paper had already made Leo Baekeland a wealthy man. At his Snug Rock estate in Yonkers, New York, he maintained a home laboratory where he and his assistant, Nathaniel Thurlow, involved themselves in a variety of projects. Like other scientists of their day, Baekeland and Thurlow understood the potential of phenol-formaldehyde resins. The chemical literature included reports written decades earlier by the German chemist Adolf von Baeyer and by his student, Werner Kleeberg. Von Baeyer had reported that when he mixed phenol, a common disinfectant, with formaldehyde, it formed a hard, insoluble material...

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Bakelite & Catalin: All you need to know

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You need to know is that Bakelite and Catalin are two different plastics, but are both commonly referred to as Bakelite. All of the "Bakelite" jewelry that you see is actually made of Catalin. Bakelite was generally only used for electrical appliances, handles on pots and coffee pots, etc. because it will not melt. Bakelite/Catalin exposed to open flames will only char. Knowing how to test for Bakelite and Catalin can also help you date other items that have Bakelite or Catalin elements, i.e. handles. Bakelite was invented in 1907 and Catalin came around in 1928. The use of Bakelite...

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