Thursday, September 1, 2016


I have become increasingly miffed at what is up on the Internet being sold as Bakelite. Recently, it has come to a head.
Well not that one, but you know what I mean.

A while back I saw someone selling all kinds of plastic, none of which was real Bakelite and saying it was. I wrote to them and explained what Bakelite is and how it's made and why their products cannot be Bakelite. They wrote back to me telling me that they've heard that before and that NO ONE knows what they are talking about!!

Shame on me.  Myself and all the experts who wrote all those books I have on Bakelite as well as all the sites on the Internet that define it clearly, and NO ONE knows what they are talking about.
Just this one  person. 
Alone in the big wide world.

Well, here's the scoop:

What?  Hey, it's vintage and the handle is Bakelite!
..........................OK, I'll behave........(not).

Bakelite is cast, like iron is cast.  When it's manufactured it looks like this:
or this:
or this:
Then it is carved, either by hand (most-sought-after) or by machine.
It's easy to tell hand-carving because the carvings are not an exact match.  Example in mind, these earrings in my shop:
Look closely and see that they are meant to be a matched set but the carvings are not exactly the same.
Also, a lot of the time the carved-out section is a bit more "matte" and not as shiny as the rest of the piece.

IT....CANNOT....BE....MOLDED!!!!!!!!! most plastics.  I wish I could hire one of those blimps to advertise that to the world.

When unsure, a good thing to look for is mold marks, like on this piece.  See the line going through the center?   That's a mold mark and that means it's NOT Bakelite:

It's not Celluloid.  Celluloid looks like this:
and this:
....and it CAN be molded
THIS is often thought to be Bakelite, but it's celluloid:

THIS is NOT Bakelite:
Here's an insert from a very popular piece of vintage jewelry that is being sold everywhere on the Internet (it must have been very common in its day).
It's being offered as Bakelite but it is MOLDED.  Plus this piece is actually warped, so there's another reason why it can't be Bakelite.
Bakelite must be tested for authenticity.  There are a LOT of sites on the Internet to help you with this, however, I do not recommend the "hot water/smell" test.  Everyone seems to have a different idea of what the smell should be like.  
Buyers of Bakelite: Don't be fooled!  Learn as much as you can about it and soon you will be able to tell if its really Bakelite just by looking at the photo!
Here's some Bakelite in all it's glory:
Tell me we've got that straight so I can sleep at night.

~~~~~~~Shameless Self-Promotion~~~~~~~
I have some vintage Bakelite pieces in my shop but I used to design and create jewelry from broken vintage, and I had a serious Bakelite phase back in the early 2000's.Many of the one-of-a-kind leftover samples are being offered in my shop under the section called "OOAK Jewels", at slightly above original wholesale prices.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. Another realy great one would be in the bio of "galechicago" on eBay. She has photos of a boxload of Fakelite.
    The button looks like Gallalith....made with skim milk solids.