Bakelite was an early plastic resin, developed by Leo Baekeland in 1907. Originally used for industrial purposes thanks to its ability to withstand heat, molded Bakelite and its cast cousin, Catalin, made the jump to costume jewelry in the 1920s and had their heyday in the 1930s and ’40s.
Costume-jewelry manufacturers were attracted to Bakelite for numerous reasons. First, it was hard enough to cut and polish, which made it a terrific choice for everything from brooches to beads to bracelets, its most popular application. Techniques ranged from scratching the surface lightly in repeated or decorative patterns to outright carving. Some carved pieces have deep valleys and furrows; others sport patterns that suggest the outside of a pineapple or the facets of a jewel.
Equally appealing was Bakelite’s range of colors, which were given names like Creamed Corn, Butterscotch, Egg Yolk, and Salmon. Some types of Bakelite were marbled—Mississippi Mu...
While some Bakelite costume jewelry was fashioned from solid blocks of a single color, many more began as laminated pieces, in which horizontal or zigzag layers of complementary colors were combined. Sometimes pieces were laminated to create polka dots; other times polka dots were hand painted on an object’s surface, and in the 1950s polka dots and gumdrop shapes were injected into Bakelite during the manufacturing process itself.
Of the brooches and pins, one of the most popular treatments during the Art Deco 1930s was to combine Ebony Bakelite—an imitation of the jet pieces from the Victorian era—with rhinestones or inlaid silver. Egyptian motifs were in vogue, as were pins in the shapes of animals (cats, camels, dogs, birds) and plants, especially flowers and clusters of dangling cherries. Especially collectible are the World War II era MacArthur Hearts, which consisted of a 3-by-3-inch key-shaped pin, from which dangled a puffy red heart with a keyhole in its center—it was sold with a card that read "He holds the key to my heart."
The most famous use of Bakelite in jewelry was as bracelets. Many of these were formed of large, block- or medallion-shaped beads that were strung together on strips of elastic. Other Bakelite bracelets were hinged, carved into the shapes of serpents, or left open at the back so they could be easily slipped onto a wrist. Some bracelets incorporated chrome accents into their designs, others combined Bakelite with Czech glass.
But the most collectible types of Bakelite bangles are the so-called Philadelphia bracelets, which take their name from a Philadelphia auction in 1985 that featured two of these remarkable pieces. Philadelphia bracelets are always laminated in colors that include green, red, and yellow. The best pieces are hinged, and feature either multicolor laminated wedges or individually colored slices that have been glued onto the bracelet body, which is usually a rich shade of Butterscotch.
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Source: Google News
Whiting & Davis: A Flapper's Purse That Rivals the RainbowSoutheast Missourian (blog), June 17th
There are solid and open-worked frames and elaborate open-worked frames and domed frames, and many degrees of enameling on the enameled frames of these bags. There are even Bakelite frames. The Gloria bag had a bracelet frame. There are also ...Read more
Years pass, words take on new meaningPress Herald, June 13th
TIP: Don't use water on turquoise objects or jewelry because water is destructive to turquoise. Instead, wipe turquoise with a microfiber cloth. Brush jewelry crevices that have become filled with debris. CURRENT PRICES: These are recorded from...Read more
Fashion briefs: Bethel Park trunk show offers discountsTribune-Review, June 13th
Go casual with a T-shirt and pointy shoes, or dress it up with a spaghetti-strap tank and sexy heels.” Wear special jewelry: “I'm all about vintage necklaces. Lockets are beautiful and add interest to any look. Chunky Bakelite bangles and clip-on...Read more
Kovels: Campaign button misleads, but brings top dollarWinston-Salem Journal, June 13th
The case is Bakelite and like new. I can't find a manufacturer's name. Do you know who made it and what it's worth today? Answer: A clock matching yours auctioned last year for $119. Clocks like it, with extra parts that move when the clock is running...Read more
A short jaunt to 'Antiques Capital, USA'Lebanon Daily News, June 11th
and other jewelry. Civil War knives, bayonets and daggers are displayed in a case next to the jewelry case. Another showcase contains antique toys including Suzette the Eating Monkey, a working mechanical toy from the 1950s, with a price tag of $500...Read more
Skinner Discovery Auction to Feature Vintage AccessoriesNews-Antique.com (press release), June 11th
The auction will offer more than 300 lots of jewelry, including several Bakelite lots, a number of designer sterling silver pieces, and many groups of antique and estate jewelry. Notable lots include a small group of lapis lazuli jewelry (lot 281, $300...Read more
Specialty shops offer vintage looks7Online.com, June 4th
"The arm party is a big trend right now, stacking up a lot of different kinds of bracelets," said Lester. "I think Long strand pearls and brooches channel the Gatsby look, and Bakelite pieces are a throwback to the '60s, also in vogue right now...Read more
Woman's jewelry business is right on the buttonThe Patriot Ledger, May 22nd
“This is bakelite, an early plastic,” she said, pointing out a large green button on a tribal-themed necklace. Martin's collection includes whimsical “china” buttons – small, white ceramic buttons with colorful, stenciled-on designs. Martin said her...Read more