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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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Re: very nice beads ! How to test ?
Re: They could be Bakelite (phenolic resin) -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: alipersia Post Reply
03/16/2020, 15:06:04

Hi
We normally test it by rubbing in our Palm. Then phenolic resin makes smell like burned wood. And also as Rosanna mentioned you can use hot needle which in result phenolic becomes dark red . Even if you bring fire close to that becomes red . Although this might not be scientific I Saw this way for 20 years. If we don't want to damage bead , always smelling gives answer.
Lovely beads Nishedha
Best wishes

Ali



Modified by alipersia at Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 15:07:12

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Re: Re: very nice beads ! How to test ?
Re: Re: very nice beads ! How to test ? -- alipersia Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: sammi_tenn Post Reply
03/17/2020, 08:33:21

If you dip them in hot water phenolic resin will have a very chemically smell.



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Yes- this is another good way to test!
Re: Re: Re: very nice beads ! How to test ? -- sammi_tenn Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/17/2020, 09:25:25

You will smell the phenol - also called carbolic acid - which has a musty, medicinal smell. Carbolic acid soap used to be a popular antiseptic soap and can still be purchased in some places.



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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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Pages from the Embed Art catalog ca. 1921-24
Re: Bakelite was the trade name of cast phenolic resins (as well as the filled, molded types) -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
03/18/2020, 09:37:35

Sorry for the poor quality

EmbedArtBrochure.jpg (39.0 KB)  BakeliteBeadReferenceChart.jpg (35.8 KB)  


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Some facts & discussion
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, 12:01:38

Some other items that need clarification / correction:

1) There wasn't a 20-year gap in development of cast resins following the molding compounds. Patents as early as 1910 (1907 for Baekeland) clearly describe the cast resins, and their use as artificial amber, etc. The patent literature was chock-a-block with patents about phenolic resins for many decades.

2) And as far as the Bakelite Co. not being a producer of cast resins, here is a direct quote from the March 1936 issue of Fortune (page 72) that indicates clearly that they produced cast resins for almost 20 years, not "about a year":

"But in 1909, when he was breaking new chemical ground, Dr. Baekeland patented among the ultimate 400 patents on which the Bakelite Corp. eventually built its monopoly, a cast phenolic. This was produced in small but profitable poundage until 1929, when the industrial molding materials had so far overshadowed it that it was abandoned. And this was just before the burgeoning of other cast phenolics, upon whose 1935 production of 5,000,000 pounds the Bakelite Corp. now looks with a slight case of industrial nostalgia."

Note: The Fortune article only discusses US production. Bakelite may have had a monopoly on cast resins in the US, but there is ample evidence that other European manufacturers were cranking out cast resins starting right after WWI.

3) One concept that you favor is that there were essentially no phenolic resin beads before about 1930. I have found a lot of documentation that shows bead production before then. My current hypothesis is that many, if not most, of the beads that have turned dark red with age (so called cherry "amber") were made from the earliest casting resins that were not color-stable. And I think there were a LOT of them made. This does "push back" the earliest dates for phenolic resin beads to the late teens & 20s. I also think it's fairly easy to identify the "later" phenolic beads because they started to appear in brighter colors (like green) that were in some cases, more color stable with time. Most of these have browned somewhat rather than turned dark red.

We can certainly debate about the "vast majority" of beads production issue. I think beads were made continuously from the earliest production of cast resins. It would be lovely to find some production statistics...but until then I disagree that "most" were made after the late 1920s -1930s.

4) I have never asserted blanket statements about you - I have addressed specific comments and brought forth information that I have gathered about them. I clearly state when I am forming hypotheses, and show the data I am using to support them. I am always eager to see the documentation that you have, to add to the discussion. I continue to search for documentation of phenolic bead production of all sorts and am perfectly willing to change my basic view of things if new data is unearthed. Scientific inquiry is a continuous process of having one's hypotheses challenged and/or disproved, so bring it on!



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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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Thank you again
Re: Re: If they have turned more reddish with age -- frank Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
03/18/2020, 03:40:52

I am very much for the things as they are, and try to appreciate them as such -- no matter whether precious or not, cheap or expensive. Of course, any seller that would offer plastic "as if" it were amber is NOT OK.

These particular plastic beads have a wonderful ivory-like patina and a silky touch...so much so that, as you can see, I feel tempted to string them in the company of first grade lapis stone and high carat gold.

49_5.jpg (24.3 KB)  45_6.jpg (49.5 KB)  


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I say with all sincerity—We know you are a master.
Re: Thank you again -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/18/2020, 03:53:53



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Please, Jamey, if I were a master, then what would YOU be?
Re: I say with all sincerity—We know you are a master. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
03/18/2020, 05:45:22



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I would be honored if anyone thought I were your equal.
Re: Please, Jamey, if I were a master, then what would YOU be? -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/18/2020, 13:51:31



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You are welcome.
Re: I would be honored if anyone thought I were your equal. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
03/18/2020, 20:26:01

Well, I have heard that "all men are equal, but some are more equal that others".

A new game for stranded pals:
Go and stand facing a mirror. Close your eyes. Say: HELLO!



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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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From 2010
Re: Cast phenolic plastics turning red -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/19/2020, 00:45:42

Perhaps more interesting because it was your inquiry, and because of what Rosanna had to say. The links I provided do not (now) go to the dialogues I intended:

http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=74479&iZz=74479&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=74479&iZz=74479&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0

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A really long dialogue from 2011
Re: Cast phenolic plastics turning red -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/19/2020, 01:06:28


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=iYz&aK=76498&iZz=76498&gV=0&kQz=&aO=1&iWz=0

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