Bakelite, or plastic gold as I like to refer to it, has been around since the early 20th Century. One can find plenty of books out there that discuss its origins through chemist Leo Baekeland, his accidental discovery of the product and how it evolved into “the material of a thousand uses” (Romero 2002). One can also learn of its rediscovery by Andy Warhol in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
On December 16, 2009, Bonham’s Auctions featured an extensive private collection of Susan Kelner Freeman’s bakelite and celluloid jewelry, proving once again the appeal and beauty of this versatile plastic.
One can find bakelite not only in jewelry, but in other products as well, such as kitchen utensils and appliances, umbrella handles, radio and clock cases, pen and pencil cases, and much more. Whether carved, swirled, laminated or injected, the appeal of bakelite is universal and oxidation over time only adds to its beauty.
This blog is dedicated to L. Arkin, a fellow lover of plastic gold.