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Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/17/2015, 08:30:27

Decided to start a new thread on faturan -

It seems that an Asian branch of the German chemical company Raschig GmbH is still making a product called Faturan - Bakelite. They also are making phenolic resin rod stock and other shapes under the trade name Catalin, which is one of the trade names for cast phenolic resins that dates back to the late 1920's. After the patent for the original Bakelite product ran out, a large number of companies began to produce all sorts of phenolic resin in raw stock and finished parts, and Catalin was one of them. Catalin appears to be one of the amber-substitute materials from which many trade beads to Africa were made.

Back to Faturan - the Wikipedia article says, "Originally, Faturan was a brand of cast thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin, similar to Bakelite, manufactured by Dr. H Traun u. Sohne of Hamburg. Faturan was the invention of Dr Friedrich Adolf Traun, Dr Heinrich Traun's son, hence the name FATuran.

The Faturan being produced today is mostly clear, in contrast to the Catalin which is mostly opaque or marbled, but clear material is also produced. At any rate, there still seems to be a demand for a product called "Faturan" and this company is filling it, with a phenolic resin material. And, the name has its roots in a German chemical company, so it makes sense that a German company is still making the product today. Or at least they were in 2001 which is the date stamp on the web site.

The main issue for bead collectors, IMHO, is that phenolic resin beads from the inter-war period can be very hard to distinguish from more recent phenolic beads, which I believe are still being made, given that the materials are readily available. The newer beads are probably coming out of Asia and India where labor is cheap. As with a lot of things in the bead world, one has to rely on personal experience with the older beads, and develop an eye for wear, patina, shape, etc.

As an added note - I am searching for information that would establish the company names and/or location(s) of phenolic resin bead production in Germany, in the interwar period of the 1920's - 1940's. Any leads would be helpful. It seems that many people believe the beads were made in Germany, but I have not been able to substantiate that. Examples of the large wheel-shaped beads traded to Africa are shown in the picture.

LargeWheels.jpg (57.0 KB)  

Related link: http://www.raschig.net/p/faturan-bakelite.html
Modified by Rosanna at Sun, May 17, 2015, 08:32:27

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Thank you for sharing this Rosanna.
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dog Bone Crazy Post Reply
05/17/2015, 09:26:39



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Thank you Rosanna for this insight!
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: karavanserai Post Reply
05/17/2015, 10:56:49

I hope you'll find more about the German production sites.

martine

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We now have "Celluloid - Faturan"
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/17/2015, 14:36:03

Just saw an eBay listing 261891139094 for "RARE Red Celluloid Faturan" trade beads. They look like some kind of resin or plastic, but impossible to tell from the pictures what they are, or how old.

And, they are so "rare" that they are selling for a minimum bid of $10.

Yes, anyone can claim anything about their beads...



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From a 1925 technical paper - Faturan is listed as a trade name for phenolic resin
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/17/2015, 15:09:46

"The resinous bodies resulting from the condensation of phenol and aldehydes...known under various trade names as Bakelite, Redmanol, Sipilite, Condensite, Amberite, Faturan, Phenoform, Nuloid, Amberdeen, etc., etc."

Quote from a paper by L.H. Baekeland and H. L. Bender, in Ind. Eng. Chem., 1925, 17 (3), pp 225237. Baekeland of course is the inventor of Bakelite phenolic resins. The original patent ran out in 1927. I am going to order a copy of this paper see what else I can learn about the "timeline" of industrial phenolic resin production. But from this publication we can see that the trade name Faturan was in existence in early 1925.

I strongly suspect that the current "fascination" with Faturan beads may be on account of the rarity of beads dating to this time period of the 1920's. Beads made from the German product, Faturan, may have been very beautiful and likely found their way to the Middle East in the form of prayer strands. And like so many other beads and bead materials, once the demand starts, any number of fakes and reproductions inevitably crop up.



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Maybe my mystery bead is this stuff?
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Luann Udell Post Reply
05/17/2015, 21:59:30

The dark brown crackle 'amber' bead on your strand looks a bit like the one I picked up at a flea market today. The man who sold it to me said it was "really old amber". I thought it might be wood. But now, looking at your strand, maybe it's an old phenolic bead, too...??

crackled_amber_bead_(326x640).jpg (153.3 KB)  
Luann Udell artist & writer Ancient stories retold in modern artifacts LuannUdell.com

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Could be - try tests for old phenolic resin
Re: Maybe my mystery bead is this stuff? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/17/2015, 22:32:03

These work pretty well on old phenolic resin:

1) wet a q-tip (lightly) with 409 and rub it on an inconspicuous spot. If the q-tip turns yellow, it is phenolic resin. I have not gotten this to work on fairly new phenolic resin bead, only the old (pre WWII) ones. The 409 will take patina off old beads, so be very sparing with how much you get on it.

2) run the bead under really hot water for about 30-60 seconds, then smell it. If it smells like formaldehyde, you have a phenolic resin bead. It's hard to describe the smell if you've never smelt it - but it's pretty putrid. The hot water may also ruin patina, so you may not want to do this.

3) hot needle test - heat a needle to red hot and touch inside the hole. If the needle sinks in at all, it is NOT phenolic resin, which does not melt. If it's amber, you will smell a pleasant pine smell. If it smells like burning plastic - it's some kind of plastic that will melt and therefore not phenolic or amber. I've never tried this on a wood bead but I imagine you'll recognize the smell of burnt wood.

Would love to see the bead in person - are you planning on attending any of our local bead meetings? I can't make the May meeting but June is likely.



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Trying test 3
Re: Could be - try tests for old phenolic resin -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: karavanserai Post Reply
05/18/2015, 02:02:56

Hi Rosanna,
does that mean that phenolic resin does not smell at all when introducing a hot needle?
Thanks for the 3 tests, will have to look out for a 409 replacement - is that an all/universal cleaner, or specific for degreasing?

martine

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See if you can get Simichrome
Re: Trying test 3 -- karavanserai Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/18/2015, 05:33:40

I don't know of a 409 replacement in Europe, but a metal polish called Simichrome may be available. It is actually the preferred material for testing Bakelite and old phenolic resin pieces. I ordered a tube via EBay.

I'll try the hot needle on an old phenolic bead today and let you know.



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Very faint odor when hot-needling phenolic
Re: Trying test 3 -- karavanserai Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/18/2015, 15:19:22

I hot-needled an old phenolic bead and there seemed to be a very faint formaldehyde odor. The main thing to notice, though, is that the needle does not make a dent in the material. I heated my needle in a candle flame, so it left a bit of soot on the bead. After I rubbed the soot off, I could not see any evidence of the needle touch, and I pushed it pretty hard.

I've read some warnings about celluloid catching fire when touched with a hot needle, so be careful with this test if you think you may have a celluloid bead. I have never owned any so I can't comment further.



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Re: Very faint odor when hot-needling phenolic
Re: Very faint odor when hot-needling phenolic -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: karavanserai Post Reply
05/19/2015, 14:45:08

Thanks you Rosanna. I did a hot needle test years ago on what I assumed to be a phenolic resin bead, and if I remember correctly this was very similar. Next week I'll do the test again. It's good to be able to compare to a reference. Thanks again

martine

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wondering about these
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Toby Post Reply
05/18/2015, 06:45:17

I am wondering what these larger beads are. They test positive with simichrome and hot water (but not a strong odor). They are strung on red leather. Any thoughts about them?
Thanks.

IMG_4293.jpg (21.5 KB)  IMG_4303.jpg (21.0 KB)  


Modified by Toby at Mon, May 18, 2015, 06:47:04

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Whatever they are, these look very nice!
Re: wondering about these -- Toby Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: karavanserai Post Reply
05/18/2015, 06:49:54

martine

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phenolic resin beads
Re: wondering about these -- Toby Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
05/18/2015, 07:22:55

I don't know enough about this color and shape to say for sure, but if the Simichrome was a strong positive, meaning a very distinct yellow with very small application, then they may be from the inter-war period.



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Word from Morocco ref. Marseillais amber
Re: More on Faturan -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: karavanserai Post Reply
05/20/2015, 07:27:17

My contact came back with the info that no more details about production areas are known other than Germany and a smaller amount coming from Czechia. The beads were as previously said exported to Morocco via the Marseille (Fr) harbour.
I am sorry that no more was revealed.

martine

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