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(Search pattern:phenolic plastic, since Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 01:02:16)

beads ID, please
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Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
03/16/2020, 09:26:59

I would like to know which kind of plastic(?) these older imitation amber beads are made of.

PhR+Ag64grAg.jpg (99.7 KB)  PhR-lap-Au.jpg (50.7 KB)  


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They could be Bakelite (phenolic resin)
Re: beads ID, please -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/16/2020, 13:58:24

Hi Nishedha,
Hard to tell without examining / testing in person. The amber-colored ones with the darker edges are probably Bakelite. The reddish ones COULD be Bakelite as well. There are some really excellent beads made from other plastics that look a lot like old Bakelite, which is why you need to run at least one test.

Can you get access to the holes & try the reamer / sniff test? You have some beads that I tested when I visited you - that are definitely Bakelite, so you can use them for odor comparison.

The other test you can run is to try to stick a hot pin or needle (heat to red hot) into the bead (use an inside surface). If the pin goes into the surface easily, you have a newer plastic, either acrylic or polystyrene. If the needle goes in a tiny bit and leaves white crumbs in the hole (use magnification) then you have fairly new polyester. If the needle won't go in at all, and leaves a tiny black mark, you have Bakelite. There are other possibilities but I haven't seen this type of large bead in other plastics. But that doesn't mean there aren't some out there.

Good luck!



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Sigh....
Re: beads ID, please -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/17/2020, 12:22:27

Dear Nishedha,

I would be surprised if your beads are anything except cast phenolic plastic.

Cast phenolic plastic is not "Bakelite." (For the reasons I have posted dozens of times here and elsewhere.)

The ideas expressed here, attempting to characterize the aroma of phenolic plastic, fail, in only providing associations. A practical suggestion is easy (for many people). In your kitchen find an older pan with a black Bakelite handle. Rub the handle for about a minute and smell your clean hand. Rub the beads and smell you clean hand. They ought to smell identical (giving the smell of carbolic acid)—because Bakelite and cast phenolic plastic are/were made from the same materials (though they are structurally different).

If these aromas are different from one another, you have two different categories of plastics. I will show you some valid advice for hot-pointing—if you can gain access to the beads (seeing that they seem to already be used in constructions). But I would be surprised that this would be necessary.

Jamey



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The Bakelite Co. made cast phenolic resin
Re: Sigh.... -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/17/2020, 19:05:17

As I've documented (see BEADS volume 28), Bakelite made cast phenolic resins. There were many competitors making this material by the 1920s, and there is no way to know which company made the resin in any specific bead.

Since Bakelite was the first trade name for phenolic resin, I think it's OK to use Bakelite the way we use a trade names like Kleenex for tissues, or "Xeroxing" for copying. In the vintage and antique jewelry business, the term Bakelite is very widely used for phenolic resin items and everyone knows what the term means.

Another old plastic based on the milk protein casein and formaldehyde is widely referred to as Galalith, which was only one of several trade names. Celluloid is yet another example of a trade name for cellulose nitrate that has passed into generic usage. Lucite (Perspex in the UK) is a term widely used for any acrylic plastic. Using trade names generically is very irritating to the original patent owners but the practice is so widespread that trying to stop it from happening it rather futile.

You may not agree with using Bakelite to indicate generic phenolic resin but it is not true that there was never any Bakelite casting resin.



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Re: "The Bakelite Co. made cast phenolic resin"
Re: The Bakelite Co. made cast phenolic resin -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/18/2020, 03:32:01

Yes they did. For about a year, until they sold the rights to the Catalin Company—that thereafter made cast phenolic plastics.

Rosanna, in these ongoing discussions, you seem to not understand that my taking an exception to popular naming practices is based on PLASTICS MANUFACTURE.

Bakelite, as a material, was/is dry-molded from powder, requiring fillers that provide strength and also make the material opaque. And further, Bakelite was essentially an industrial material, that was not only opaque, but routinely black, brown, khaki, or mottled.

Cast phenolic plastics, once they were developed, in formula, were greatly improved over Bakelite—because the material was internally strong, did not require fillers, and was made to be either translucent or opaque at will—and could be given any color(s) for which there were colorants.

The differences between Bakelite and cast phenolic plastics are PROFOUND. And, the time between the development of one and then the other is nearly twenty years. Popular notions suggest that colorful cast phenolic plastice artifacts date from "1907" (which is not true)—because THESE THINGS ARE CALLED "BAKELITE."

I have reservations about a number of propositions included in your article. And these include suggestions that earlier experiments in producing cast phenolic plastics may have yielded beads that would be available in the market today. So you are, essentially, doing the same thing. You are putting-back-in-time an idea that is probably mistaken for the vast percentage of beads. Possibly entirely. My goal, always, is to express facts, and opinions that are reasonable and grounded in reality—and are therefore dependable generalizations.

You and I are going to have to agree to disagree. And anytime you promote an idea that I think probably holds very little water, it is very likely I will come along and say I disagree.

Minds are "changed" when people are willing to listen to reason. But my goal is actually to inform people who have not yet made-up their minds, and who remain open-minded.

If you think the differences between dry-molded phenolic plastics and cast phenolic plastics are unimportant—that is your opinion; and my opinion is different. And it remains among ideas I have promoted for a very long time—and still think hold water.

Finally, in previous dialogues, you have taken the stand that I have said 'everything you say is wrong.' And nothing could be further from the truth. Please do not assert blanket statements about me, that only serve to make me "look bad." At the least, these suggestions are unwarranted, and untrue.

Jamey



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Bakelite was the trade name of cast phenolic resins (as well as the filled, molded types)
Re: Re: "The Bakelite Co. made cast phenolic resin" -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/18/2020, 09:36:03

You are trying to maintain the proposition that Bakelite, as a trade name, only applied to the molding compounds that were indeed created for industrial purposes. This is incorrect. I'm not sure why you keep insisting that Bakelite is an "improper" term for cast phenolic resin. It's a useful and widely used term throughout the antique jewelry world as I'm sure you know.

As a trade name, Bakelite was also used for casting resins, and later in the interwar period, for some thermoplastics.

I am still collecting documentation related to early plastic beads. Last October I visited 95-year old Mrs. Welch, whose father, Lawrence Byck, was the first chemist hired by Leo Baekland to work at the NJ laboratory and factory. Byck started a side business making beads and other items from Bakelite CAST resins. I am working on a publication to further document my visit (so I am scooping myself here!). Byck's beads may have been the first Bakelite beads made in the US, but since the Bakelite Co. also had factories in Europe, it's possible Bakelite beads were also being made there.

Due to time restraints I didn't get really good pictures of everything I wanted to, but I submit for your consideration a photo of a paperweight advertising Bakelite cast resin, and some of the beads in Mrs. Welch's collection of artifacts from her father. Note that the "light clear amber" beads have darkened with age. The paperweight was probably light amber originally, as well.

The second set of photos shows some of the pages from the sales brochure for Byck's jewelry business, Embed Art.

BAKELITECastResin_.jpg (36.1 KB)  LightClearAmberBakelite.jpg (53.0 KB)  


Modified by Rosanna at Wed, Mar 18, 2020, 12:05:34

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Thank you, all of you!
Re: beads ID, please -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
03/17/2020, 13:18:54

Very interesting (aka educational) thread!

It may be useful, if sometimes boring, to reread lessons that were before, even more than once, explained in the past.
Let both teachers and we students never forget those words from the I Ching: "Perseverance furthers".

Now I have still to disclose a surprising fact: both images show the same imitation amber beads -- a few years in between, and made with different cameras.
The first necklace(with the beads strung as purchased)was undone years ago, and the Yemeni silver disposed off. I am currently into the second project, and of course I would like to be more knowledgeable regarding the material these (nice) beads are made of.



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If they have turned more reddish with age
Re: Thank you, all of you! -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/17/2020, 15:32:07

If it's not an artifact of the photography, and the beads have turned more red with time, then that is one confirmation of phenolic resin.

If you have some household ammonia, wet a cotton swab with a tiny bit and rub a place that doesn't show. If the swab turns mustard yellow, that is also a good sign for phenolic resin.

I have been using "Bakelite" interchangeably with "phenolic resin" since many more people know this trade name and associate it with old plastic.



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Re: If they have turned more reddish with age
Re: If they have turned more reddish with age -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: frank Post Reply
03/17/2020, 20:29:08

There has been a lot about bakelite here over the years but not much discussion about it's aesthetics. I went to an all bakelite jewelry store in Palm Springs years ago and was enchanted by the translucency and saturated colors of the pieces. Without the negative connotations of bakelite as the source of duplicity or confusion what do you think of it as a medium?



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I have nothing against plastics, per se!
Re: Re: If they have turned more reddish with age -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/18/2020, 03:52:05

I began acquiring imitation amber beads from Mali in 1972, used them in designs I created, studied them, wrote about them—and continue to acquire them over forty years later.

And, from 1987 to about 1997 I made plastic beads and jewelry from Fimo modeling compound (and similar brands)—for which I am considered a "pioneer" in the medium.

There are a number of things I resent about plastics. Most assuredly the fact that, since about 1920, no manufacturers seem to have considered the possibility of immense polution caused by the thoughtless disposal of plastic waste—that is now wrecking our environment.

But, if we put that aside, plastics are important materials that make many things possible, and improve our daily lives. They also provide a valid art medium. It is the shallow idea of "disposability" that mess up the equation.

My problem with "Bakelite" has been expressed previously. But cast phenolic plastic artifacts are undeniably interesting and even beautiful. I have a small but reasonable collection (if we do not include the copious numbers of fake "amber" beads I also have). What I resent, more than anything else is misrepresentation. I am a Consumer Advocate. And as such, my mission is to inform people of facts, to counter misrepresentation (plastics are not "amber"), and to counter unwarranted explosions in pricing structures—based on those false ideas and wrongly-promoted misrepresentations.

I actually have a nice lecture that I present about plastic beads and jewelry—a large portion of which is dedicated to phenolic artifacts.

Jamey



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The aesthetics are lovely!
Re: Re: If they have turned more reddish with age -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/20/2020, 14:13:52

Good question, Frank.

There are some unique and interesting pieces made of Bakelite - here is one I purchased from a seller in the UK. It's a slide, about 40 mm wide, with a large 25 x 10 mm opening, that I put on a woven leather cord. Was probably used as a scarf or belt slide.

It's an example of the dark red colored pieces that I believe started out as amber colored, but have turned "cherry red" with age due to the color instability of early phenolic resin formulations.

Most of the beads, bracelets, pins, clips, etc that I've collected were made to imitate amber - and a lot are really beautiful and patinated with age - but the other colors are also fun. In contrast to newer plastics, I find that the Bakelite pieces have a more pleasing appearance and heft to them. I don't know quite how to describe the difference, and I wonder if a lot of the appeal of Bakelite pieces has to do with the high level of craftsmanship used to make them. Also the brown patina that occurs with age tens to make the items more "earthy" (organic?) looking - something impossible to replicate with other plastics.

More modern plastic beads & jewelry are mostly mass-produced and injection molded, although there are exceptions (I'm sure more than I suspect) such as this interesting necklace made from polyester beads that look handmade - but I can't be sure. It was sold as Bakelite...one of those misrepresentations that may or may not have been deliberate.

RFBakeliteSlide.jpg (38.3 KB)  RFPolyesterFlatBeads.jpg (35.7 KB)  


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Re: If they have turned more reddish with age
Re: If they have turned more reddish with age -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
03/18/2020, 05:44:13

WoW!, I was assuming the difference was due to lighting and cameras... but you blow my mind, now I think they have really changed color!



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Cast phenolic plastics turning red
Re: Re: If they have turned more reddish with age -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/18/2020, 23:01:07

From 2006:

http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=41103&iZz=41103&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=41103&iZz=41103&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0

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So-called "African Amber" - can anyone document the popular eBay concept....
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Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
08/24/2007, 16:31:17

We're going to focus on search criteria "African Amber" on eBay, contacting sellers re. corrections that need to be made re. representation. Popular descriptions include allegations that ground up amber particles are bound by synthetic resins, that copal is bound by synthetic resins, and that these are considered "African Amber". Can anyone show any documentation of this at all, besides "my eBay seller told me so" or "my African trader told me so"? If this were actually done, wouldn't there be a known manufacturer in the Dominican Republic, or somewhere in Europe?

I remember the Picard's sample card posted on the old nbs forum ages ago, I believe from Czechoslovakia, with the title "Simulated Amber" - exact examples of some of the phenolic plastic beads from the west African trade. But "Simulated" does not mean it contains amber, any more than simulated leather contains genuine leather.

Sorry to be redundant re. certain points. Even horn is being titled on eBay as "African Amber".

Getting back to the real stuff, and there is genuine and lovely amber from the African trade, worth dollars per gram....two tablespoons dissolved salt in 8 oz. water will be a helpful guide. If the bead in question sinks like a chunk of lead, it's NOT amber. If it floats, it is LIKELY amber.


Related link: Amber Test
Modified by Server Admin at Fri, Aug 24, 2007, 17:50:48

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Re: So-called "African Amber"
Re: Re: So-called "African Amber" -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: betty Post Reply
09/03/2007, 20:59:12

The combination of the specific gravity test (brine) and the static electricity test should be sufficient to identify amber except for the rare piece of copal which might pass both tests. Why is the hot needle test necessary?

Isn't the static electricity test valid for jet as well?



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Tests and Testing
Re: Re: So-called "African Amber" -- betty Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/30/2019, 22:53:39

December 30, 2019

First, since 1907 phenolic plastics have, likewise, been materials that take a negative static electric charge. Consequently this became a useless test in the arena of amber, over 100 years ago (!).

You would have to describe what you consider to be a "smell test." I know what I think that means—but I call it a "rub test."

Because amber and copal are very similar, if it is significant to distinguish between one and the other—the primary difference is MELTING POINT.

The hot-point test is useful because copal melts much more easily than does amber. It also exudes turpine aromas—that are different for different materials (be they plastics, copals, or ambers). This is exactly why the hot-point test can be helpful and even necessary. (The next alternative would be to pay for a chemical analysis from a trained technician.)

JDA.



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interesting discovery today-
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Posted by: stefany Post Reply
12/01/2019, 12:11:11

these are hollow, carved and appear to me to be stained soapstone perhaps?
the paper has 5mm squares.the largest is approx 15mm diameter. On close inspection even the tiny beads between are carved and drilled from the same stone...they are individually carved ...not bone, horn or shell, nor pottery nor glass...opinions?

IMG_0249.JPG (173.2 KB)  IMG_0251.JPG (214.7 KB)  


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Um..., No!
Re: petrified tagua nut beads? -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/06/2019, 18:10:48

It has been some time since we had any discussion of the issues that are raised here.

One is "tagua"—and the fact that several organic materials (seeds, etc.) are exploited and called "vegetable ivory"—and it is not unusual for all of these products to be misidentified as "tagua." It happens constantly.

The other is the misidentification of the present material—that I have correctly ID'd in the past. This being "Chinese composition" (made from various factory dusts, glued together or 'reconstructed' to form a block material that is made into beads). Composition can be pale (from recycled bone or ivory dust), or colored (exploiting wood dust, incense ash, and possibly other materials).

A typical bead has been cut into spherical shapes, then dyed, then cut to have raised "eyes"—as we see with the present beads.

I have discussed all this so long ago, I suppose no one remembers. At the early days of Beads-L, and at the previous iteration of BeadCollector Forum.

In any event, a mistaken identification that Chinese composition is "tagua" (or 'vegetable ivory') is understandable—for anyone who doesn't have a handle on these topics. But there is a significant difference! JDA.



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Very interesting!
Re: Um..., No! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/07/2019, 12:53:56

I'll add one of my beads to the group that needs ID from the chem lab. I hope to get some formal analyses done in the next few months.

I got mine off a necklace where all the other beads were phenolic resin. I assumed they were contemporaneous, however I don't recall if I did any testing. I re-tested them just now using various sniff tests, and I thought they"could" be casein. The odors are very faint. I have not done the hot-point test.

I have a small pile of synthetic beads & buttons that I couldn't ID for sure, and I have learned from the button collectors that "composition" is a material category. The odors from the composition buttons defy description, and the hot point tests don't match any of the "pure" plastics that I've tested so far.

Do you know anything else about the Chinese composition beads - specifically when they first appeared on the market? Do you have any that you can show for comparison?



Modified by Rosanna at Sat, Dec 07, 2019, 14:04:38

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Composition
Re: Very interesting! -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/07/2019, 14:43:59

I have pieced-together what I know from little snatches of information, mostly from antique sellers and a few collectors. A lot of what I say is "my take" on the situation. And what I say is vague because there is no real information.

A few years ago, after discussions with Deborah Zinn (Beads-L), I received some buttons that were (she said) composition made with powdered horn. And they resemble horn.

So I wonder if your buttons (or beads) have an odor (via hot-pointing) that is like keratin (?). A burning-hair smell. But this would be compounded by whatever was used to glue the dust together. I have been assuming (for Chinese stuff that may be ca 100 years old), that the glue would be something organic—like rabbit glue. But this is only a considered guess. These materials are not "plastic," and are not going to smell like plastic. Certainly not casein—though casein (being made from milk) would also have a musty burnt-protein odor. Casein also tends to soften just in water.

I can show the Chinese composition beads I have (when I come across them). A very few are artistic and interesting. But most of them look exactly like the beads we've already seen. Exterior colors can be different—but the dyes used are often fairly dull.

Funny story. In the early '70s I bought a long necklace at a White Elephant Sale at my church. The lady who donated it told me they had been hers. And she was told the beads were "fish bones, from fish that lived in the Nile River in Egypt." Of course, I did not think this was remotely possible. This cut does not resemble fish bones. These particular beads had a dyed-red exterior.

JDA.



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Now it's my turn to be skeptical
Re: Composition -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/07/2019, 20:04:45

IMHO the buttons that resemble horn are probably casein buttons (see center part of top button, but not the greatest example) since casein was deliberately colored and blended to be a horn substitute. I tend to doubt that a powder suspended in any kind of matrix, would look like real horn. Did you hot pin one of them?

I haven't spent a huge amount of time on casein beads & buttons but yes they often smell strongly like musty milk. Sometime I have to heat the item very hot in hot water, or use a hot point, to be sure. Some items have very little odor by comparison, so they may not be pure casein formaldehyde but CF blended with something else. As usual, impossible to know for sure without a lab test.

After I learned about composition buttons, I realized that there were synthetic or semi-synthetic concoctions also used for beads that will likely be impossible to identify. When I went to the CA button show recently, I was able to pick up a button considered to be "composition". Hot needling it produces a noxious odor. When I say it is indescribable, I mean that to me, it's apparent that it's a conglomeration of industrial plastics & resins but nothing identifiable. The ID could only be done by analytical instruments. But definitely not rubber, casein, phenolic, or any of the newer thermoplastics that I've tested multiple times.

FYI - getting a fishy odor from a bead - which may be the reason someone thought a bead was made of fish bones, is the tell-tale odor of urea formaldehyde (UF). It was also a thermoset and commercialized in 1929 as a replacement for Bakelite. UF takes colors better than Bakelite so it's found in a very wide range of colors. The trade name in the UK was "Beetle" and it was used for buttons for certain. I don't have any beads that I know or suspect are made from UF but they are probably out there. Another related material with a fishy odor is melamine formaldehyde, also used for buttons from the 1940s. No idea at present if it was ever made into beads. Note that buttons were made from the early plastics by press-molding to a net shape. Beads made from thermoset plastics had to be machined, then polished. It's possible some plastics didn't machine well or didn't polish up into something that was attractive enough for jewelry. Interesting topic though.

GalalithButtons2.jpg (43.5 KB)  


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Question about miscellaneous holes drilled in Chinese carved beads
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Posted by: jrj Post Reply
09/05/2019, 19:50:52

I have been wondering why there are random-seeming holes in some types of carved Chinese beads that are not terribly old: see the example below. Do they serve as datum or set points for carving machinery? Can someone enlighten me? Thanks!

Also, the price of these carved rose cherry resin beads seems to have taken quite a downturn in the last few years!

jrj_09042019.jpg (105.6 KB)  


Modified by jrj at Thu, Sep 05, 2019, 19:51:56

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Susan Dod's rose-carved cherry resin beads
Re: Re: Chinese carved beads -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jrj Post Reply
09/06/2019, 05:58:44


I just looked at photos of Susan Dod's rose-carved cherry resin beads and some of hers have random holes. See the bead to the right of center at the very top in the below image.

Sdods_jjrj_09062019.jpg (152.5 KB)  


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These are 1930s phenolic plastic, carved in China—often sold as "cherry amber."
Re: Susan Dod's rose-carved cherry resin beads -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
09/06/2019, 07:18:13



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For comparison - a recent "cherry amber" polyester bead
Re: Question about miscellaneous holes drilled in Chinese carved beads -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
09/06/2019, 14:53:13

First photo - a quick glance made me think this was carved phenolic. Actually a 3.5" ball rather than a bead - has the 12 zodiac signs. After I realized it was new, I found many copies on eBay, some claiming to be real amber, for less than $30.

Second photo - the line where the two halves were joined is clearly visible. Close inspection at the right hand end of the line shows where the designs on the two halves don't quite match up.

Unless I inspect a plastic bead and do a few tests, it's very hard to tell what plastic was used.

I will say this about the Chinese "cherry amber" beads like yours though - it seems like there are "enough" of them on sale on eBay at any given time to make me suspect that some of them, at least, are recent production, probably from polyester resin. Could be that a mold was made from some hand-carved beads, then new ones were made from the mold(s). "Prices taking a downturn" makes me suspicious... OTOH all of them may be old phenolic.

RFDragonHead.jpg (85.9 KB)  RFMoldLineCloseup.jpg (105.9 KB)  


Modified by Rosanna at Fri, Sep 06, 2019, 14:56:54

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Test results
Re: Have you tried the reamer or Simichrome tests? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: jrj Post Reply
09/06/2019, 20:31:55

I tried a barely damp (with water) Q-tip and the cotton turned very pale brown, which I assume is dirt. (I bought the necklace at an estate sale and it needs a cleaning.) Same result with ammonia. I'm a bit taken aback by these results because I had assumed the necklace was not amber. Rosanna, are these tests conclusive?



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Your results indicate that it’s a plastic other than phenolic resin, or maybe real amber
Re: Test results -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
09/06/2019, 23:18:55

Yes, slight dirt on the surface will come up tan or brown. A deep mustard yellow color, which may be faint, is a result of a chemical reaction with the surface of phenolic resin. A phenolic bead from almost 100 years ago would give this color unless the beads had been heat treated, which is possible. But all the cherry amber jewelry beads I’ve tested gave a positive result in this test.
If you can do the bead reamer test you can confirm the ammonia test result. Ream the hole rapidly and take a sniff of the sawdust. Also observe the color of the sawdust by wiping it on a white cloth. If the bead is amber, the odor will be piney. If musty, medicinal, you have phenolic. If stinky plastic smell, it’s another plastic, probably polyester.

If you’d like to mail me one I’ll check it for you and send it back.



Modified by Rosanna at Fri, Sep 06, 2019, 23:35:02

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There is more dark amber undertone to these beads
Re: Susan Dod's rose-carved cherry resin beads -- jrj Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
09/06/2019, 15:40:28

So I can believe these are phenolic resin. Only a very thin outer layer turns cherry red with age & exposure unless heat treatment is used to drive the color change reaction.

For your first photo, I’m not sure. There doesn’t appear to be any amber undertone, but color photography that is underexposed like in that picture can mask a lot of features.



Modified by Rosanna at Fri, Sep 06, 2019, 23:31:34

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Sigh....
Re: There is more dark amber undertone to these beads -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
09/07/2019, 01:53:51

From 1926 through the '30s and probably later, Chinese beadmakers made thousands or millions of translucent red phenolic plastic beads. The beads that have been marketed as "cherry amber" throughout my career (and long before, of course). The material was imported from Europe or the US, in rectangular blocks—and was transformed into beads via lapidary cutting, grinding, "carving," polishing, and drilling (just as would any industry that made phenolic plastic beads). The beads were most-frequently spherical or spheroidal (many being standard oblates). These fit in well with beads made for Mandarin Court necklaces. (I have them.)

Some beads were carved. Some were elaborately carved—such as the subject beads in this thread. (That I have seen before too.)

The material is generally uniformly red—just like the blocks from which is was derived.

While it is entirely possible that some tawny-yellow phenolic (and/or other plastic) beads have become superficially red over the years, scads of beads were made from red plastic. The tone of the material can vary. Many beads are uniform in color and frankly red in good available light. Others can be darker—and it helps to hold the beads against a light source to see their uniformly-dark-translucent red color. The material of the red Chinese beads is indistinguishable from red phenolic plastic beads made for the European market (often being faceted, and characterized as "Russian cut," and "Victorian" "cherry amber"). And the material is likewise indistinguishable from many (but not all) red phenolic plastic beads made for the Middle Eastern and African markets (except in instances where some beads MAY be yellow with a red exterior—due to age, heating, or dying).

So far, in the arena of Chinese phenolic beads, I do not recall seeing any "dark amber undertone" beads" with surfaces that "turn cherry red." But I have seen and documented, and I own, the beads I have described.

JDA.



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ETSY What?
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Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
03/21/2019, 10:30:27

Found this on ETSY. Evidently a Vintage Venetian Trade Bead. NOT.

$165. deal

this part!!!: It is very difficult to put a date on these beads....

ETSY What?

This could be some kind of honest mistake, who really knows.

Twice I've gotten after someone on eBay. Once was a guy that was obviously into the Reenactment Scene that posted a Riker Box with a strand of new (on the raffia!!) African granular glass/ Sand Beads which were labeled as dug up on a Native American Site, etc and a high price. The second was some Antiques Dealer that had a big chunky strand of Dyed Red Chinese Bamboo Coral labeled as Antique Mediterranean Coral- really expensive too. She, at least replied and said they were Consigned, and she withdrew the listing.

I recently had the humbling experience of having to ReWrite and ReThink one of my listings that I had fouled up. It happens. Are we the Bead Police? Of course not, However I would think it prudent to give a shout out where due in the more blatant cases. A friendly heads up to the seller might save them a bad mark on their seller's Hx, from an irate buyer. Or if they are buying from an unscrupulous Bead Seller they won't make that costly mistake again.

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

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Some of the misrepresentation of beads are hilarious
Re: ETSY What? -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/21/2019, 15:40:26

My all-time favorite was "First Century Islamic" beads, by a history-challenged seller - they were actually Venetian if I recall correctly.

Another beauty was "pre-contact" South American beads that were also clearly Venetian. I could not get the seller to explain how European beads arrived in the new world BEFORE anyone from Europe got there!

And I occasionally see phenolic resin beads "from the 19th century" when the first production of this material was 1910.



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Cast phenolic plastics that imitate amber largely post-date 1926 (!).
Re: Some of the misrepresentation of beads are hilarious -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/24/2019, 13:08:06



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I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info on the early years of phenolic resin
Re: Cast phenolic plastics that imitate amber largely post-date 1926 (!). -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/24/2019, 18:54:36

I recently found three references, in French journals (thank you Marie-Jose Opper!), to Faturan, one dated 1913, naming it a "product imitating amber", and two dated 1919. Faturan was a German trade name for phenolic resin. I inspected a bead card labeled Faturan in the Jablonec Glass Museum archives and this product was a cast resin. Also a number of other German commercial phenolic resins products are described in Die Perle, a German jewelry trade magazine (started in 1924). All sound like cast products and some specifically were for faux amber.

Baekeland's original patents (1909) described cast resins as well as the compression molded versions with and without fillers. Patents by others in the US and Europe followed almost immediately and Baekeland was vigorously defending his by 1914. The Bakelite factories did not produce a lot of cast products, but Bakelite was described as available in different "gleaming" colors (which sounds like cast products) in a 1924 book.

In Carleton Ellis' industrial chemistry book published in 1923, cast phenolics are specifically mentioned for beads, indicating that these products were available prior to that date in sufficient quantity to merit mention.

My investigation found that Bakelite Corp did not abandon its cast product line until 1929. The Catalin Corp. began to manufacture cast phenolics around 1926. However the Catalin Corp early years were considered "stormy" with an "inefficient plant" and not an especially viable business until the early 1930s.

IMHO beads were being produced from the new faux amber resins as soon as they were available in the 1910s. I might agree that the quantities were larger starting in the 1920s, but 1926 is not a magic date. It certainly appears that the 1920s and 1930s (and maybe into the 1940s) were the "hey-days" of cast phenolic beads. I don't think 1926 has any particular significance except perhaps for the Catalin Corp. It's also a mistake to be too "US-centric" when looking into phenolic bead production.



Modified by Rosanna at Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 19:51:50

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My response is similar (!)
Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info on the early years of phenolic resin -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/24/2019, 20:07:14

You say, "I might agree that the quantities were larger starting in the 1920s, but 1926 is not a magic date."

1926 sort of IS a "magic date." It was the year that the Bakelite company announced their NEW LINE of translucent colored phenolic plastics. And, it was in 1928, two years later, that Catelin negotiated and received the Bakelite Patent, and began to produce their own lines of cast phenolic goods.


You say, "It certainly appears that the 1920s and 1930s (and maybe into the 1940s) were the "hey-days" of cast phenolic beads."

GREAT. THAT is what I said. J.



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Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info on the early years of phenolic resin
Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info on the early years of phenolic resin -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
03/29/2019, 06:22:51

Hi, I did find this from the Plastic Historical Society/ PHS:

James Swinburn, seeking a material for electrical insulation purposes, developed the previous work of Baeyer, Smith and the Austrian chemist Luft.
Both Smith and Luft succeeded in obtaining only insoluble, infusible resinous products which were impossible to mould. (ICI. 1962).
In 1904 Swinburn developed a formula for phenolic resin, whilst in the same year establishing the Fireproof Celluloid Syndicate Ltd. to commercialise the product. This commercialisation was not very successful although a very usable lacquer, for the protection of brass and other metal surfaces, was produced and sold well. By 1910 this lacquer was the dominant company product and the name of the firm was changed to the Damard Lacquer Company.
In parallel to this L.H. Baekeland, working in New York, was also investigating the phenol formaldehyde reaction in the search for an electrical insulating material.
Arthur Smith, in England, took out the first patent for the use of phenolic resins, as they were called, in 1899 (it happened to be for electrical insulation), and five years later an electrical engineer, James Swinburne, established the Fireproof Celluloid Syndicate in London to manufacture and sell the same sort of material. However, neither of these ventures was technically or commercially successful. Baekeland was therefore not tilling virgin soil … (Kaufman 1968).
From 1902 onwards, after five years research, and in a masterpiece of chemical investigation, Baekeland succeeded in producing a synthetic resin which he called Bakelite, registering his ‘Heat and Pressure’ patent on July 13th 1907. Unfortunately this material did not prove itself to be easily mouldable and it is his patent of October 1908 that really covers what is now considered to be a mouldable Bakelite material.
Baekeland was not the first chemist to make a resin …(from phenol and formaldehyde) ….. but he was the first to make a resin which could be used to manufacture useful things (Farrell 1955)."

It goes from there to the USA Baekeland 1908 Patent for Bakelite..

Here is the WHOLE ARTICLE:http://plastiquarian.com/?page_id=14339

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

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Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info ..../ More Info For You
Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info on the early years of phenolic resin -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
03/29/2019, 06:29:05

Hi, I did find this from the Plastic Historical Society/ PHS:

"James Swinburn, seeking a material for electrical insulation purposes, developed the previous work of Baeyer, Smith and the Austrian chemist Luft. Both Smith and Luft succeeded in obtaining only insoluble, infusible resinous products which were impossible to mould. (ICI. 1962). In 1904 Swinburn developed a formula for phenolic resin, whilst in the same year establishing the Fireproof Celluloid Syndicate Ltd. to commercialise the product. This commercialisation was not very successful although a very usable lacquer, for the protection of brass and other metal surfaces, was produced and sold well.

"By 1910 this lacquer was the dominant company product and the name of the firm was changed to the Damard Lacquer Company. In parallel to this L.H. Baekeland, working in New York, was also investigating the phenol formaldehyde reaction in the search for an electrical insulating material. Arthur Smith, in England, took out the first patent for the use of phenolic resins, as they were called, in 1899 (it happened to be for electrical insulation), and five years later an electrical engineer, James Swinburne, established the Fireproof Celluloid Syndicate in London to manufacture and sell the same sort of material. However, neither of these ventures was technically or commercially successful. Baekeland was therefore not tilling virgin soil … (Kaufman 1968)."

"From 1902 onwards, after five years research, and in a masterpiece of chemical investigation, Baekeland succeeded in producing a synthetic resin which he called Bakelite, registering his ‘Heat and Pressure’ patent on July 13th 1907. Unfortunately this material did not prove itself to be easily mouldable and it is his patent of October 1908 that really covers what is now considered to be a mouldable Bakelite material.

"Baekeland was not the first chemist to make a resin …(from phenol and formaldehyde) ….. but he was the first to make a resin which could be used to manufacture useful things (Farrell 1955)."

It goes from there to the USA Baekeland 1908 Patent for Bakelite.. "

Here is the WHOLE ARTICLE:http://plastiquarian.com/?page_id=14339

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 06:31:47

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From 2006
Re: Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info ..../ More Info For You -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
04/01/2019, 15:09:00

Here is a dialogue from 2006, in which I divulge (as I have done countless times) the differences between Bakelite and cast phenolic plastics.

My perspective has changed a little since then—but it is a very little. JDA.

http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=41103&iZz=41103&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=41103&iZz=41103&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0

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Re: My response is similar (!)/ Some more USA Bakelite info
Re: My response is similar (!) -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
03/29/2019, 05:30:55

While this does not reflect the activity in Europe, it does give some general info on Bakelite in USA per "Bakelite: Mystery, History & Facts" By Brad Elfrink

"Dr. Leo H. Baekland invented Bakelite by accident in 1907 while trying to produce a less flammable shellac for bowling alley floors."...

"By 1922 bakelite’s production increased so much that the General Bakelite Company found it necessary to merge with two other companies, the Redmanol Chemical Products Company and The Condensite Company, under a new name “The Bakelite Corporation” in order to keep up with the increased demand for the material. In September of 1924, Time Magazine ran a short article about Bakelite which reads as follows….

“Bakelite.” Superficially, it is a composition, born of fire and mystery, having the rigor and brilliance of glass, the luster of amber from the Isles. Poetically, it is a resin formed from equal parts of phenol and formaldehyde, in the presence of a base, by the application of heat. It will not burn. It will not melt. It is used in pipe stems, fountain pens, billiard balls, telephone fixtures, castanets, radiator caps, etc.. "

"In 1927 the Bakelite patent expired and was acquired by the Catalin Corporation that same year. The Catalin Corporation refined the Bakelite formula and manufacturing process to create cast phenolic resins and renamed the material as Catalin. Dr. Baekeland had actually patented cast phenolics in 1909 with bakelite, and his company produced the cast resins in small amounts until around 1929 when the demand for the molded materials became so high that the company focused on them instead."

ARTICLE: http://www.elvenkrafte.com/bakelite%20presentation.htm

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 05:38:43

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Some missing info...
Re: Re: My response is similar (!)/ Some more USA Bakelite info -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/29/2019, 09:47:50

Hi Anne,
Actually Baekeland successfully sued the Redmanol and Condensite Corps for patent infringement and took over the two companies as a result of the lawsuit. In other words he was awarded damages that amounted to owning the two companies. Not really a situation of "finding it necessary to merge". Well at least I wouldn't put it that charitably.

It's hard to find good info on the web - I've been looking into the history of Bakelite for over 3 years now. I am familiar with both of the sources you found. I summarized a lot of my findings in the BEADS article I wrote for volume 28, 2016. See link on the BCN Articles page for the paper on Imitation Amber Beads of Phenolic Resin.

The best article on the history of the Bakelite Corp. was published in March 1936 in Fortune Magazine - I have it but it is not accessible on the web as far as I know. It dishes a lot of dirt on the people behind the various companies that went into competition with Baekeland.

Over in Europe, it seems that the Germans in particular went into production with competitive products almost immediately - I base this on scanty evidence but the 1913 mention of Faturan is suggestive. Baekeland also filed European patents and he went to court there as well. I have not delved too far into what specifically happened but one reference in a German chemical index says that the successful defense of the German patents allowed the development of an independent phenolic resin industry in Germany. It appears that this industry was up and thriving before 1926. I don't have any production figures for either Germany or the US prior to 1926, but I believe that the info I have points to significant production in the early 1920s and possibly before.

This is why I consider the year 1926 not a useful milestone when dating cast phenolic resin beads - I think a lot were made in Europe as well as in the US before that date. In particular, the many graduated bead necklaces, both faceted and smooth, that we now call "cherry amber" because the phenolic resin formulation did not have a stable amber color, are very suggestive of the early days of production when the color instability was a noted problem.

I know that the cherry amber beads were originally yellow amber colored because I fractured some and found that the red was confined to a thin surface layer. The fractured surfaces have slowly turned red over the last 3 years sitting out in the air in my office. Some products were reported to change color in only a few weeks. There's a lot of chemical info in the patents and early texts about this - too much to try and review here.

Last year I visited the Plastics Historical Society archives and copied some info, which I am still digesting. I am still on the lookout for early phenolic resin bead info so if anyone finds anything interesting, please let me know!



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Re: Bakelite Corp.
Re: Bakelite Corp. made cast phenolic resins before 1926 -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
04/02/2019, 04:30:12

"All of Bakelite's products were called Bakelite."
According to whom, and when?

"Here are excepts about the Bakelite cast resin products from two of the references I used in my research. They both are from 1924 and it would not be much of a stretch to assume the products were available for a number of years before."
"Not much of a stretch"? OK. WHAT beads would those be?

I provide practical information based on reasonable generalizations. My ideas are based on published technical and commercial publications, that (apparently) you have not seen. But I have discussed them multiple times.

I largely do not disagree with you, except in terms of practicality. I make remarks. You disagree, and then you say (essentially) the same thing I said. That is not much of a disagreement.

JDA.



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All Bakelite products were called Bakelite
Re: Re: Bakelite Corp. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
04/02/2019, 17:10:48

General answer to your first question - according to industrial trade journals and texts that I've read. I have not found any exceptions up to the point where the Bakelite Corp. merged with Union Carbide in 1939. I haven't looked at much info beyond that date.

Specifically, here are copies of two texts: The first is from The Chemistry of Synthetic Resins by Carleton Ellis (1935). The codes m, l, s, t next to Bakelite stand for molding composition, laminated, soluble type, and turnery type (cast and machined articles).

The second is from Handbook of Plastics by Herbert Simmons and Carleton Ellis (1943). Note that all the products, not just phenolics, are all called Bakelite. This is typical of a lot of chemical companies.

Ellis1935Bakelite.jpg (59.6 KB)  Ellis1943Bakelite1.jpg (35.4 KB)  


Modified by Rosanna at Tue, Apr 02, 2019, 17:12:06

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Amber vs. Polystyrene "Lemon Amber"
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Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/06/2018, 09:52:59

Here's a direct comparison of natural amber vs. high impact polystyrene (HIPS) "lemon amber". Note that HIPS beads can show surface wear, dirt and pitting that makes them look very "natural". In this case the color is a dead give-away. I haven't seen any HIPS beads (yet) that were colored to look more like natural amber, but I suppose they are out there.

Another property that can be confusing is that HIPS is a fairly low density plastic so it may "feel" like real amber. Amber has a density of around 1.05 - 1.10 g/cc, and HIPS, 1.03 - 1.06. The HIPS beads will therefore "pass" the salt water float test used to confirm real amber.

By contrast, other plastics used to imitate amber are higher in density, will "feel heavier" and also sink in the salt water test.

Generic phenolic resins, e.g.Bakelite: 1.36 g/cc
Celluloid: 1.4
polyester: 1.38
Galalith (casein): 1.35
acrylic: 1.17 - 1.20

Note that the density of plastics can vary a bit, due to the very wide variation in formulations that may included additives, dyes, etc., so these values are all approximate. Theoretically, you might, for example, find an acrylic bead that is low enough in density that it will pass the salt water float test.

RFAmberHIPSDec2018.jpg (34.2 KB)  


Modified by Rosanna at Thu, Dec 06, 2018, 10:09:45

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Re: Amber vs. Polystyrene "Lemon Amber"
Re: Amber vs. Polystyrene "Lemon Amber" -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: odan Post Reply
12/06/2018, 11:09:01

Yo Rosanna...here's some photos of my real Amber with some fakes tossed in.
I think the colors on these are very close to real.....
Just thought I'd post some for your ideas.

8_a_1.jpg (61.0 KB)  6_a_2.jpg (53.9 KB)  


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Very hard to tell much from these pictures
Re: Re: Amber vs. Polystyrene "Lemon Amber" -- odan Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/06/2018, 15:31:19

Dannoh - your pictures are too blurry to tell for sure, but the ones that appear to have glossier surfaces when compared to the natural amber - are probably phenolic resin beads. The other possibilities are casein, celluloid, and polyester. In other words, almost impossible to say which plastic without direct examination.



Modified by Rosanna at Thu, Dec 06, 2018, 15:32:40

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