UsedBlog Cross-Canada Tour of Awesomeness: Bakelite
From left to right: original Schick injector razor with a Bakelite handle via UsedPQB, Bakelite expansion bracelet via UsedCalgary, 1930s napkin ring & elephant pencil sharpener via UsedNanaimo, working 1947 Zenith Bakelite radio via UsedOttawa, set of 6 stainless Steakmaster Deluxe knives with butterscotch Bakelite handles via UsedPEI, working 1960s Bakelite rotary dial phone via UsedOttawa
Bakelite is the world’s first synthetic plastic developed in 1907 by Belgian-born chemist Leo Baekeland in New York. Baekeland was originally trying to come up with a new varnish when he accidentally created the hard moldable material he called Bakelite. Because of its high resistance to electricity, heat and chemical action, Bakelite soon appeared in everything from lightbulb sockets to machine guns and by the time the 20th century rolled around it was being used for kitchenware, radios, jewellery—you name it.
Today, Bakelite is a popular collectible. Unlike lucite or other plastics, Bakelite hearkens back to a bygone era of quality and craftsmanship. That and it’s lovely. It has weight. It feels good in the hands and some of the jewellery or novelty items are etched with amazing detail. So, yeah. If you didn’t before, you now know a little bit about Bakelite. If you’ve never seen it up close, I suggest you visit your grandparents, scour your local flea market or check your local Used site and get your hands on some.