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At Home with Bakelite

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At Home with Bakelite

By: linda grossman and evelyn roth

“Plastic” objects are part of our history. These items represent a significant example of Americana. The Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art and the Philadelphia Museum all include “plastics” in their collections.

You do not have to go to a museum to enjoy seeing and collecting “plastic” items. The primary goal of the new movement, in the 1930’s and 40’s, was to provide less expensive, decorative, and useful items in the home, using machines to create and service the large population.

It created an enormous variety of both functional and decorative high and low cost objects for the home which are sought after by collectors today. Antique plastic is not a contradiction of terms – plastics have been around in synthetic form for well over 100 years making them a true antique.

BAKELITE was developed by Dr. Leo Baekeland in 1907 and was originally intended as an insulator for electricity, and is not quite 100 years old. Besides Bakelite jewelry, Bakelite has brought us items such as radios, kitchenware, flatware, clocks, Bakelite handled utensils, telephones, salt and pepper shakers, etc. The list of items boggle the mind and keeps increasing the pleasure it brings to the collector of any or all of the above.

When to decide to collect Bakelite? Colors, design and style are no doubt what will attract you initially. The broad pallet of Bakelite enables today’s collector to enjoy both nostalgia and utility. For example, your eye catches a set of red plastic canisters – and it becomes a “look” in your kitchen, which can be followed for a search for a set of Bakelite Flatware for your dining experience. Above all, you are buying what you like and at the same time buying items of value. The value increases as authentic examples of an era diminish in supply. Collecting is a tangible, you had fun finding it and have the pleasure of the item in your home.

The term “streamlined” appeared in magazines and illustrations of the day, to describe the design that set this era apart. Cocktail shakers, some accentuated with Bakelite, Bakelite napkin rings, drink stirrers, fruit knives, etc., were all part of the scene - the streamlined Bakelite radio playing popular songs of the day. This is now what collectors seek to continue to enhance the look of the era that has now become an important part of their lives.

We advise collectors of Antique and Vintage Bakelite items for their home, to buy what gives them pleasure and don’t be afraid to set an eclectic table – utensils and flatware do not have to match nor do they have to be the same color. Buy “orphaned” pieces of Bakelite flatware to create a bright and colorful look – all that matters is what appeals to you, the collector.

Be certain, that in order to assure the continuance of this search for Antique and Vintage Bakelite for the home, one has to always be certain of where and from whom these items are being purchased, and buy from reputable and knowledgeable dealers.

At our shop Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies at Ruby Lane, we have been dealing in and have an expertise in the field of Antique and Vintage Bakelite for well over 20 years. Please stop by and enjoy our selection of all things bakelite, including Bakelite household items, which include utensils, flatware, etc.

http://www.rubylane.com/shops/evelynnesoldiesbutgoodies

About The Author

My mom and I have been vintage Bakelite dealers for over 20 years - with shop and show experience and now in an online shop for over 2 years - dealing in vintage Bakelite Jewelry, Bakelite Flatware and Kitchenware.

stevestamp@aol.com

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