What is Bakelite? Bakelite was created by Belgium Scientist Leo Baekeland in 1907 when trying to develop an alternative for shellac which was used to cover woodwork. The result was not what he had expect, but did give the world a new material to create everything from ladies jewelry to telephone cases and electrical insulators.
The evolution of non-precious material jewelry a.k.a costume jewelry started with Celluloid back in the mid 1800's. Celluloid is highly collectible but has a drawback in that one it's flammable and second it can get diseased. Yes your Celluloid piece can start to deteriorate and can give the infliction to other pieces of jewelry in your collection.
With the invention of Bakelite also known as Catalin as an industrial material was heat resistant and could be made in a multitude of colors, more on that later. This lent itself to making of costume jewelry from bracelets or bangles to brooches, pins and necklaces.
How do we identify Bakelite? The easiest test that we use when out picking for Bakelite is the wet Q-tip test. Yes, no fancy tests need for the road warrior, the wife carries water wetted Q-tips in a plastic bag in her purse. Just rub the Q-tip on the item to be tested and no matter what color it is a Nicotine colored stain will appear on your Q-tip
The Bakelite collector market has created wild color definitionsto describe Bakelite pieces. Cherry Cream Soda, Apricot, Butterscotch, Mustard,Creamed Spinach, Paprika, Apple Juice, Iced Tea and such.
Next, there are single colored pieces and then there aremulti-colored pieces that can be known as marbled, swirled and even Mississippimud. These colors if more than two are also called "end of day" andthat bumps up the interest in collectors. These pieces were created by theworker mixing whatever he or she had left from the days orders and dumpedthem together making a beautiful mixture of colors in the piece.
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Until next time, Indy