Newly made from some kind of thermoplastic resin
Re: New to the forum but looking to collect beads can someone help me identfy these?? -- calumw789 Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Mail author
06/14/2015, 18:49:40

Hi CW,

I agree with Joyce's comments and would like to add the following-

I've been doing an investigation on old phenolic resin (Bakelite) beads and I'm also interested in amber-imitations made from other plastics. I'm a retired polymer scientist as it turns out. I reviewed all the huge beads being offered by this seller. My opinion is that these are recently made by melting together scrap plastic, mostly amber colored, of some sort.

My reasons for thinking this are as follows: Many of the beads appear to contain large inclusions with sharp edges, that look suspiciously like chunks of unmelted plastic stock. If you look at the holes - on most of them, the holes look like one or two irregular sticks or rods were used to create a hole while the material was being melted. Then, the "flash" or excess material around the hole was ground off. One of the beads has a very ugly metal (probably aluminum) strap embedded into the side to mimic the repairs sometime seen on old amber beads. Strand of amber-colored beads with these crude metal strap "repairs" have recently been on eBay and advertised as "old". See for example eBay 261924341949. The real joke about this particular auction is that the beads are said to be 19th century - impossible since the beads are clearly plastic and Bakelite was not commercialized until 1910, and these beads are not even phenolic resin but something newer. I think they started appearing in the last 2-5 years, so VERY new!

All this being said, I would love to have one of these beads so I can have the plastic identified. I recently had an "amber substitute" bead analyzed by a commercial lab and it was high impact polystyrene (also known as HIPS). However the minimum price + shipping to the US is 26 pounds for one of the beads, a steep price to pay for my curiosity. If you end up buying one of these beads and could spare a very small sliver from inside or near the hole - I will get the material analyzed.

If you purchase one for a project - enjoy the bead for the color and design and NOT for any collectible or historical value.

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