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Original Message:   Re: I don't totally agree and I'm still digging up info on the early years of phenolic resin
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

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