Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen
When many think of Bakelite the images of plastic bangle jewellery pop to mind. The craze of the 1920’s through to the 1970’s are for the most part not Bakelite. Many plastics such as Lucite, celluloid, and others, including some Bakelite were molded and tinted into fashion by many makers. Following the war years many inexpensive plastics diluted the market and the quality and the popularity declined. This mass produced item had many makers with some items marked but most not. Coro and Lisner were two of the popular makers of the plastic jewellery trend intended to mimic the highly sought after Art Deco era 1920’s through 1930’s true Bakelite bangles and items now often fetching over $1000 on the collector market.
Bakelite was not just for bangles and jewellery and many items of the era highly collectible and made of Bakelite include cameras, clocks, inkwells, cufflinks, and even desk fans. The mercury brown pistol style cameras of 1930’s and the rare Holly red 1950’s Bakelite box cameras are fetching up to $1000 values in the right market.
So how does one tell if their treasure or great find is indeed Bakelite? The simplest means of testing consist of the hot-water method, where a characteristic odour much like chemical shellac-like emits when the item is warmed under hot running tap water for about 30 seconds (this is not recommended for any item with mixed non plastic materials such as carved woods). Another method a little more harsh is using the product Formula 409 which when rubbed will leave a yellowish residue on the cloth (test this in a small not visible area such as the backside or a pin or inside of a bangle and wash the item with warm soapy water immediately following the test). The down side to this testing is not all Bakelite items will pass all these tests especially if they are very dirty and aged or have had previous chemical tests causing stripping. It is always best to have a reputable dealer verify your item and teach you the proper methods and developing your nose for the true unique Bakelite smell.
Popular bangle bracelet styles to collect include carved designs such as basket weaves, swirling, geometric, floral, and the highly sought after apple juice Bakelite and the hinged carved Scotty dog style. Not just bangles of Bakelite are hot items, the many other items such as dangling fruit pins, animal pin, and pins of sporting themes such as gold or riding are also around and bring high values. Highly collectible items include a Bambi fawn painted pin, a carved leaping gazelle, a jet black swordfish, a yellow marbled chess knight, and dangling pins with cherries, or school themed with a slate, pencil and book hanging on a ruler.
The late-use 1960’s Bakelite was rarer but is found in some necklaces and earrings often sporting bright colours and mod flower power themes of the pop days and can realize values in the hundreds for the right buyer.
Don’t fret it the true Bakelite craze is beyond your collecting pocketbook as the 1960’s ‘pop’ period of plastic and Lucite jewellery is fast becoming a hot area of collecting and still very findable at a reasonable price and just plain fun to wear.

1 Comment(s):
Michelle / Inktiques said...
You be the judge ... Bakelite or Fakelite ... visit some FUNKY VINTAGE jewels for sale in one of INKTIQUES online shops at:
March 30, 2011 10:23:10
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