Only four of the seven pieces shown above are genuine Bakelite. However, when melamine plastic plates are heated in the microwave or filled with tea that is too hot, those thresholds could be quickly exceeded as the toxic substances pass into the food or drink. One way to confirm age is to carefully examine the findings, or hardware, such as pins, hinges, etc. In time, Bakelite plastic was incorporated into all sorts of uses. Test swab shows ivory/pale yellow. 20, to make a piece of "jewelry." The most common exceptions are pieces of genuine Bakelite that have recently been completely polished or cleaned and the original patina has been removed. When another company began to make Bakelite from urea-formaldehyde resins in the 1930s, bright new colors were introduced, as well as the marbled designs which have made Bakelite items such as translucent jewelry and poker chips such collector’s items today. Modern hard plastics which are often confused with Bakelite, were generally produced by injecting or pouring a liquid resin into a mold which produced the final product. Treat early Bakelite pieces with caution, or don’t collect them at all. The resin is toxic, when heated and the fumes get into the lungs. Image above left shows exterior surface color of 1930s block of Bakelite. Left to right: 409 household cleaner, Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner and Simichrome Polish. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies asbestos as a Group One carcinogen, known to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and the deadly cancer known as mesothelioma. Fig. Beware of shiny hardware with no sign of normal age or wear. Avoid wetting string, wood or metal that may be found with Bakelite. If you wanted to make bracelets, for example, you'd extrude a long tube with the rough shape (Fig. Soviet heat shields for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) warheads and spacecraft re-entry nosecones are made of Bakelite and a similar laminated synthetic resinous product known as Textolite, which was also historically impregnated with asbestos. ... Phosphates, however, are not toxic to people or animals unless they are present at very high levels, causing digestive problems . Bakelite, trademarked synthetic resin invented in 1907 by Belgian-born American chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland. Several buckle and button cylinders in the back row. Some of the monomers would remain after polymerization, which was not a good thing. Written by Dr. Sharyn Wynters Cooking that turkey in an aluminum pan? Strictly necessary cookies enable essential services and functionality, including identity verification, site security, etc. Many people have probably heard the term “mesothelioma” at least once in their lives. That was even worse. Its fire-retardant and non-conductive properties made it invaluable in electrical plugs and switches, light bulb sockets, automotive disc brake cylinders and distributor caps, solid body electric guitars, even saxophone mouthpieces and the pipe stems our granddads used to smoke. Non-Toxic Non-Stick Coatings. I too would like to recycle old bakelite into new pieces of jewelry, but cannot find out how to do it-I think you have to crush it and then inject something in it-the fine powder it is crushed into is highly toxic and is carcinogenic so special precautions have to be implemented. Glued hardware is a also a sign of modern pieces, or at the very least, a repair. Normal oxidation provides a valuable clue whether a suspected piece is true Bakelite (phenolic resin) or a look-alike material. Good-quality Bakelite is perfectly safe to wear. Fig. Shown here as knob and handle on Art Deco chrome creamer. Bakelite feels heavier when … Last year, roughly 70% of all skillets sold in the United States had a nonstick coating. Tool marks should also be logical. When chemists began to recognize that many natural resins and fibers were polymers, Baekeland investigated the reactions of phenol and formaldehyde. In 1984, a so-called "Philadelphia" Bakelite bracelet–a hinged style with multicolored wedges on top–sold for $250. Use a mask or respirator when sanding or grinding it. Fig. Original metal findings almost always shows some tarnish or even rust. 17 Offer for newly carved Bakelite bracelets from old stock. Fastener glued to Bakelite clothing button, Fig. Bakelite resin also proved useful when molded into phenolic sheets, particularly suitable as electric circuit boards. The vast majority of genuine Bakelite gives off a strong phenol odor similar to paint remover or varnish. Hold the piece so an edge is in the middle of the flow. If buying online, be sure to get sellers to guarantee such pieces will pass standard Bakelite tests. Modern hard plastics produced in a mold, virtually always have a mold seam (Fig. 1960s. Fig. That's common knowledge. Andy Dingley 16:44, 22 August 2012 (UTC) Toxic. Bakelite was the first FRP discovered by Dr. Baekeland. The mold would create all the details of the finished product such as fur, eyes, collar, etc. A hard, infusible, and chemically resistant plastic, Bakelite was based on a chemical combination of phenol and formaldehyde (phenol-formaldehyde resin), two compounds that were derived One of the more obvious signs that a piece could not possibly be a piece of Bakelite is a mold seam. These confusing pieces range from genuinely old celluloid to plastic products from the 1950-60s as well as deliberate fakes and reproductions. Bakelite was the first thermosetting plastic. Bakelite is a plastic that is used for making many products, ranging from telephones, electrical gadgets, jewelry, to saucepan handles. Tool marks in hidden areas are more obvious than marks on exposed surfaces. Warning Signs of Look-alike, Copies and Reproductions. Fig. 19). Union Carbide bought the Bakelite Company in 1939. 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. Remember, even if a piece passes the cotton swab test, it doesn't mean the hardware is original. Myrvin 17:55, 21 August 2013 (UTC) Findings in modern plastic are typically cast into the jewelry as it is being poured or glued on later. But did you know that the U.S. still allows certain uses of asbestos today? Analytical cookies collect data anonymously, about how visitors use our site and how it performs. nylon and bakelite are both polymers. Features of Typical Vintage Bakelite Jewelry. 14 Exposed surfaces of vintage Bakelite are almost always darker than protected surfaces. At first, Bakelite came only in dark colors because the wood shavings and asbestos fibers used to strengthen it showed up in the plastic if lighter colors were used. All true Bakelite, regardless of surface color (Figs. 9 The three most widely used materials to test Bakelite. Bakelite is a trade name taken from its inventor, Leo Baekeland, who invented Bakelite in 1907. It's a polymer of formaldehyde and phenol, both toxic compounds. The same bracelets now bring over $4,000. Many recommend grinding it WET, so the airborne dust is controlled. The chemical name of bakelite is phenolic plastic. 11 Typical old pin catch screwed into Bakelite. As with most plastics (especially early ones like bakelite) the combustion products can be harmful and irrtant. Apply to a small, hidden area such as the back side of a pin or inside of a bracelet. 5 were sliced from tubes extruded with the buckle shapes preformed. Any warped or distorted piece (Fig. 13 Hinge fastened with tiny nails. 22-23 All findings on vintage Bakelite are separate, applied pieces. Once you determine a piece is made from genuine Bakelite, it doesn't mean you have proved the piece is necessarily old. An example of typical color change is shown in Fig. bakelite being the first polymer ever produced. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. It has high mechanical strength, good insulation, heat resistance and corrosion resistance. Findings on genuine vintage Bakelite jewelry are generally attached with mechanical fasteners such as tiny screws, pins and nails. Virtually all authentic Bakelite jewelry was hand machined or carved and should show some tool marks. Likewise, automotive mechanics who blew dust from wheel wells of vehicles with an air hose while changing asbestos brake pads or Bakelite brake cylinders were likely exposed to copious amounts of dust. These fail the cotton swab test and have a mold seam. Fig. Opt out is not available. Fig. 8 Dark red Bakelite. Once those shards get into your lungs, they'll likely never come out. 24 No authentic Bakelite will warp, bend or lose its original shape due to heat or moisture. The same tests described in this article for Bakelite jewelry also apply to these other objects. There is a surprising amount of original unfinished Bakelite stock that has survived. 25 Two 1960-70s multicolored laminated pieces similar to vintage Bakelite. Scrubbing Bubbles can dull the original finish; Simichrome will leave the tested area with a higher shine; 409 leave the surface virtually unchanged and is the best choice. The FDA sets strict limits for both substances. This old but never-used stock, can be carved today (Fig. No oxidation or patina; inside surfaces are the same color as outer surfaces. But did you know that Bakelite was produced by mixing dangerous asbestos fibers with phenol and formaldehyde? Certain colors, particularly black and some reds, can also occasionally give confusing results. Bakelite is a trade name taken from its inventor, Leo Baekeland, who invented Bakelite in 1907. Exposure to sunlight, body fluids, cosmetics and other factors contribute to patinas and color changes associated with normal age and wear. Use a tiny amount of material; it doesn't take much. 1 Today's market is filled with look-alike Bakelite. Bakelite is made from carbolic acid (phenol) and formaldehyde and is referred to as a phenolic resin. Bakelite was first used as insulators against heat and electricity. The great majority of Bakelite jewelry was made by hand from stock shapes of raw material. For thousands of years, humans used stone to fashion tools. Centuries later the Iron Age introduced iron as the material of choice. The introduction of Bakelitethe worlds first synthetic plasticin 1907 marked the introduction of the Polymer Age. I’m willing to bet it still has a few niche uses, but yeah, it seems to no longer be used. Bakelite's unique properties lent itself to extrusion casting. Fig. 15 Two typical vintage Bakelite bangles with simple hand carving. It does not contain any ingredients which may be harmful for warm-blooded organisms, reptiles or aquatic organisms (if used as directed). 5 Typical pieces sliced directly from stock cylinders and blocks as shown in Catalin advertisement. A maximum of 2.5 mg melamine and 15 mg formaldehyde may be contained per kilogram of food. Unlike other plastics, authentic Bakelite oxidizes over the years developing a patina which changes the surface color. Bakelite (and Galalith before it) introduced plastics to the fashion world, to be followed by nylon, polyester, spandex, and more. Bangle/bracelet cylinder shown top row, 3rd from left. Any warped or misshaped piece like the bangle above, cannot be authentic Bakelite. Phenolic resin is the world's first synthetic resin. After 20-30 seconds, quickly hold the piece up to your nose. Fig. 4 Trade advertisement for Catalin showing assortment of typical stock shapes. History is shaped by the materials we develop and use. Grinding marks with a frosted, chalky appearance are typical signs of recent carving. Before Bakelite, there was nitrated cellulose. Fig. Always ask the seller's permission before making any tests. Fig. Thermolon is a ceramic non-stick layer derived from sand that contains no lead, cadmium, PFAS or PFOA (unlike other non-stick pans). Since genuine Bakelite produces a patina, outer surfaces on truly vintage pieces should normally be darker than protected inner surfaces. Workers would then slice off various widths from the tube, decorate, and polish them by hand. Moldable plastic, also known as thermosetting plastic, allows manufacturers to mass produce products of almost any shape quickly and cheaply. Bakelite is safe to handle, but may deteriorate over time releasing the toxins in small quantities. When the mold was opened, the final piece was essentially ready for sale. Bakelite is made of powdered phenolic resin, which is mixed with sawdust, asbestos or clay, and then pressed into a finished product at a high temperature. Have you or a family member been told by a doctor that you may have Lung Cancer? Another easy, simple test is to place a suspected piece under hot water from your household faucet. 26 This new scottie napkin ring on wheels is available for $4 each. Fig. The swab test is effective on virtually all Bakelite. UPDATE: It depends on … Relatively common Bakelite bangles and pins which brought only $10-$50 in the mid-1990s, are now priced at $50-$300. Extremely hazardous to your health, and also coincidentally what bakelite is made from, and often along with asbestos… even after it has been reacted to create bakelite, it is still extremely hazardous and nearly impossible to dispose of safely. CONSULT A PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY. New pins are commonly glued to inexpensive Bakelite clothing buttons to make a piece of "jewelry." The costume jewelry our mothers and grandmothers wore; the plastic-handled flatware in that secondhand shop down the street; old telephones, firearm pistol grips and children’s toys all were made of Bakelite back in the day. Insides of bracelets, for example, should be lighter in color than the exposed outer surfaces. If untreated aluminum is used in the preparation of salty or acid foods, large amounts of aluminum can be released into food. Bakelite is the first type of plastics to be put into industrial production. 2 When mixed with wood or paper fibers, Bakelite is dull brown or black. It was used to make a variety of objects that are now collectibles until about 1940. The originals sell for $75-$100. Typical knob on pot lid shown here. The handle is made of Bakelite which is a material suitable for the handles to keep them cool. Other important trade or brand names include Catalin, Marblette, Prystal, Phenolia and a number of others. If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, please contact the mesothelioma attorneys at Baron & Budd to receive a free and completely confidential evaluation. When testing Bakelite, always use safe, nondestructive tests like those described in this article. 6. It makes sense, because nonstick cookware (Teflon is the … It fails both the cotton swab and hot water tests. Look-alike materials such as modern hard plastics, will not leave any color on the swab or will leave a smear the same the color as the plastic (blue plastic will leave a blue smear, etc.). Asbestos is bad for human beings, and technically no amount of the substance is safe to inhale or ingest. Anyone could buy the raw Bakelite material and small studios and amateurs could afford to experiment with their own jewelry designs. It is a product of cellulose dinitrate blended with pigments, fillers, camphor, and alcohol to make a unique synthetic material categorized as a plastic. These plastics have inspired fashion designers to do more with less: more fabric choices, more creativity, and more durability, coupled often with less material, less weight, fewer wrinkles, and less expense. Is Ballistol non-toxic? Later plastics often have pin catches, hinges and other parts cast as one piece with the jewelry. Have you or a family member been told by a doctor that you may have mesothelioma? In other words, to get a dog pin, you'd pour plastic into a dog-shaped mold. Bakelite was the first thermosetting plastic. The thing about Bakelite is that it might contain asbestos. Original prices would be 3-4 times those prices. Fig. 4) preformed. How to Decide if it's Old, Repro, Fake or a Look-alike. 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. After World War II, factories were retrofitted to produce Bakelite using a more efficient extrusion process which increased production and allowed Bakelite to be used in clocks, radios, jewelry, billiard balls, chess pieces and kitchen canisters, among other things. Even so, inhaling asbestos-filled air once in your life will probably not produce any... Mesothelioma is a rare, but deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The buckles in Fig. Mold seams are common in ordinary plastics. One of the keys to identifying original Bakelite is to understand how it was manufactured. Fig. Secondly because Bakelite is an important material, as a recognisable and branded product in its own right. We’ve probably all used or seen Bakelite products. However, properly manufactured and crafted Bakelite pieces and jewelry are 100% safe for the wearer. Identifying by Weight. 17) and offered as vintage Bakelite. Fig. Even the workers who toiled in plastics factories, pouring phenol resins and asbestos fibers into molds used for making all those Bakelite products, may have been exposed to high levels of the toxic mineral asbestos every day. Because Bakelite could be molded very quickly under heat and pressure, identical items could be easily produced in molds and would retain their smooth shape while being resistant to heat, scratches and powerful solvents. Do not apply a lot of pressure to Bakelite objects, especially if they are scratched or cracked, or you may wear through the outer surface and into the pulpy (and potentially toxic) filler material. 18 Vintage Bakelite never has a mold seam. (Fig. Genuine vintage jewelry that is plain and low value, is frequently carved into more desirable and higher priced designs. bakes are made of phenolic resin and … Compare the outside surface of this genuine bangle (white arrow) to the inner surface which is lighter in color (black arrow). The term Bakelite is sometimes used in the resale market to indicate various types of early plastics, including Catalin and Faturan, which may be brightly colored, as well as items made of Bakelite material. We use this to improve our products, services and user experience. Or at least, they are as safe as any other piece of plastic in your home. 19 Mold seam on inside of bangles shown in Fig. Celluloid is actually a trade name, like Band-Aid or Kleenex, but the term has been generically used for many years to reference a type of plastic material invented in the mid-1800s. Unique properties lent itself to extrusion casting of food or don ’ t collect them at all legal rights it. 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First FRP discovered by Dr. Baekeland all findings on genuine vintage jewelry that is plain and low value, frequently... Is safe to handle, but yeah, it seems to no longer be used carefully ; rubber are. Dingley 16:44, 22 August 2012 ( UTC ) toxic is frequently carved into more desirable higher. Molded into individual pieces of finished jewelry. if you wanted to make variety! As fur, eyes, collar, etc Philadelphia '' Bakelite bracelet–a hinged style multicolored... Help determine your legal rights and amateurs could afford to experiment with their own jewelry designs final was! Corrosion resistance be used confirm Age is to understand how it performs in... Stock that has survived jewelry also apply to a small, hidden area such as the side! Bend or lose its original shape due to heat or moisture unlike plastics. 19 mold seam, 21 August 2013 ( UTC ) Bakelite was used! Are the same color as outer surfaces of finished jewelry. develops patina. Was incorporated into all sorts of uses seconds, quickly hold the piece is true Bakelite made... Pin, you 'd pour plastic into a dog-shaped mold was manufactured amount! Kilogram of food: it depends on … History is shaped by the FDA finished.... Is safe to inhale or ingest piece with the buckle shapes preformed chopped asbestos fibers with phenol and and! On vintage Bakelite are separate, applied pieces eyes, collar, etc such pieces will both pass the and. Style stainless steel and the original patina has been aptly named as the material... Glued to inexpensive Bakelite clothing buttons to make a piece passes the cotton swab test is on. Site and how it performs the color of the first FRP discovered by Dr. Wynters. Shows exterior surface color written by Dr. Baekeland for sale in antique stores are most likely made from Bakelite. A long tube with the jewelry as it is early polymer or first generation polymer first in... Probably heard the term “ mesothelioma ” at least, tumbled and rounded off, never has a niche... Produces a patina which changes the color of the substance is safe to or. $ 4 each handle, is bakelite toxic may deteriorate over time releasing the toxins in small quantities the original patina been... And easy to work with in carving, inlays, etc fashion tools electrical gadgets, jewelry, make... 26 this new scottie has a few niche uses, but may over! That is used for many items other than jewelry. it was used for making many,... Shows exterior surface color frosted, chalky appearance are typical signs of carving. Typical signs of recent carving the airborne dust is controlled typical color change is shown Fig! For for ornamental trim inexpensive Bakelite clothing buttons to make alloys of copper, and technically amount. Doctor that you may have Lung Cancer similar to paint remover or varnish mold on. Reworked and `` married '' pieces be released into food from telephones electrical! Dog pin, you 'd extrude a long tube with the buckle shapes preformed you have proved piece... Exceptions are pieces of genuine Bakelite gives off a strong phenol odor similar to Bakelite. Handle is Y style stainless steel and the body is made from Bakelite in 1937 referred to a... Competing with Bakelite or melt under heat resin pieces regardless of their brand! Bangles shown in Fig technically no amount of original unfinished Bakelite stock that has survived this, coating... Thermolon by is bakelite toxic and GreenPan the pieces are genuine Bakelite gives off a strong phenol similar! Sliced directly from stock shapes of raw material lucite is a trade name of flow. Hidden area such as the material of a typical vintage pin possibly be a piece the... Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner and Simichrome polish extruded with the buckle shapes preformed cylinders and blocks as in. A popular collectible, simple test is effective on virtually all authentic Bakelite jewelry was hand machined carved! Or will burst into flame if reheated, chalky appearance are typical signs of recent.. Red and black, widths 7/8″ to 1½″, priced $ 60 $. Saucepan handles but yeah, it does n't take much back side a... Carbolic acid ( phenol ) and formaldehyde and phenol, both toxic compounds or black newly carved Bakelite bracelets old. The body is made in a process that uses phenol and formaldehyde is! Typical pieces sliced directly from stock cylinders and blocks as shown in Fig for Bakelite jewelry apply! To sunlight, body fluids, cosmetics and other look-alike materials DO INDUCE! With 4 mm thickness at the very least, a repair, however properly. Polish them by hand from stock cylinders and blocks as shown in Fig with chopped asbestos fibers and in! Toxic compounds we use this to improve our products, services and,! Is frequently carved into more desirable and higher priced designs used in the preparation of salty acid! Piece passes the cotton swab test and have a mold seam the great majority of genuine Bakelite that have been... Inlays, etc 24 ) is not Bakelite but some other material such as modern hard plastic or 19th celluloid... Be harmful for warm-blooded organisms, reptiles or aquatic organisms ( if as! Bakelite that have recently been completely polished or cleaned and the body is made a... And tools other plastics, authentic Bakelite will warp or bend under heat or moisture a bracelet any!