Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bakelite


Are you familiar with Bakelite? Pronounced "Bake-a-lite," this early plastic was developed by Belgian chemist Dr. Leo Baekeland between 1907 and 1909. Bakelite was one of the first plastics made from synthetic components. It was hailed for its nonconductive and heat-resistant properties, making it suitable for electrical components. Cost effective and functional, Bakelite was used in kitchen utensils, small appliances, telephones, cameras, game pieces, clocks and radios, buttons and belt buckles, jewelry and many more everyday objects. 

Colors range from brown to black to red, butterscotch and yellow to orange and green. Some pieces have a marbled design. Today, Bakelite is collectible and one of my favorite things to hunt for in antiques stores. 

 
I purchased many of the items in these photos for just a few dollars each. Jewelry tends to be more expensive, but the earrings above and bangles shown below cost between $25 and $75. I've seen many pieces priced well over $100.



Items with patterns and inlays such as dots, chevrons or stripes are especially sought after and are therefore more expensive, which is why I don't have many of them. I was lucky to find the beautiful cake server above, with its two-toned handle and engraving, for a decent price. The corkscrew handle is Bakelite but looks like tortoiseshell.


When searching for vintage pieces, it's always fun to find things in their original packaging, like these "Dinkee" cocktail forks. Unfortunately it was not a complete set when I purchased it, but I couldn't resist these four in their original box. I love the marbled pattern on the handles. The forks are very useful for serving olives and hors d'oeuvres, as stated on the box! I get a kick out of mid-century advertising lingo: "With Dinkees on hand it has been observed, your table looks grand, your guests are well served."



Do you collect Bakelite? If so, I'd love to hear from you. What are your favorite treasured pieces? Let me know by clicking on "Comment" below.

2 comments:

  1. Love the Bakelite section- just gorgeous photos and so nice to learn the history of these lovely collectables!

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  2. Hi Claudia: I just came upon this post...and yes, I adore Bakelite! One of the best places is Brimfield. Have you ever been there? Fabulous beyond words!
    I have a few pieces and am always on the lookout. Maybe we should do a vintage "tour" together? If you know of a market in NC let me know and I'll meet you there!

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