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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