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History of Plastics

Plastics are everywhere today, and without them most of our modern technology would not exist. Yet the development of the first plastics was driven by very specific, even mundane needs of the time. As a new middle class emerged with disposable income for leisurely pursuits and luxury items, demand for ivory increased. This fueled the search for an artificial substitute - celluloid. Casein (Galalith) was developed during the search for a better blackboard material. Leo Baekeland's interest in photographic materials led to the development of Bakelite. The enormous potential of these early compounds was obvious, and after only a few years they were found everywhere. Buttons, vanity items, knitting needles, utensil handles, telephones, radios, and automobile parts all were made from plastic. And now the middle class could enjoy what only the wealthy could before.

More on the development of plastics

Care and Repair of Vintage Plastics

How best to store and clean your vintage plastics. And what I have done to repair broken and delaminated pieces.


chip holder

Aging of Plastics

  old chip  

Bakelite and catalin acquire a great patina with age. Other plastics can undergo color changes, texture changes, and sometimes even disintegrate with age. See more...


Identification of Vintage Plastics

Tricks to help you figure out what you have.

Catalin Vs Bakelite

These terms are used everywhere, and often inaccurately. Learn more.

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