Friday, March 08, 2013

Lost in Yonkers: Bakelite Comes Home Again

In June of 2010, I had the opportunity of attending Bakelite’s “return home” --  back to the city where it was founded -- to its hometown of Yonkers, New York.

The special exhibit “Bakelite in Yonkers: Pioneering the Age of Plastics”, was housed at the Hudson River Museum, traveling from Amsterdam, a former home of Belgian founder Leo H. Baekeland, to the place of its invention and birth.
The egg shaped Bakelizer, 1909.

Overlooking the majestic banks of the Hudson River, the museum  provided an overall look at the synthetic plastics industry from its inception, with focus on brand name Bakelite as its most famous product.

Colorful displays of the aged thermoset plastics in every size, shape, and function, were exhibited throughout the large and spacious hall.

Touted as “The Material of a Thousand Uses”, there were utilitarian objects such as car parts, typewriters, and cooking bowls, as well as vanity items including hair combs, make up sets, and carved "gems" of rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, and every imaginable kind of plastic jewelry.

“You can’t melt it, burn it, or bend it”, echoed the 1930's voice, from an early promotional movie reel.

No longer "lost" and since rediscovered by a new generation of vintage loving Bakelite aficionados, the popular exhibit has long since returned to Amsterdam, while a myriad of Bakelite products continue to be appreciated and enjoyed today. 

Here is a fine sampling of vintage Bakelite jewelry offered by Vintage Fashion Guild members.

Vintage 40s Carved Amber Bakelite Hand Tussie Mussie Pin Brooch

by Glad Rags & Curios on Ruby Lane

40's Vintage Red Carved Bakelite Earrings

by MorningGlorious on Etsy   

Mid-Century Bakelite and Laminated Wood Demi-Parure

by Linn’s Collection on Ruby Lane


Large Vintage Carved Black Bakelite and Rhinestone Swordfish Sailfish Pin Brooch

by PinkyAGoGo on Etsy

1940s Vintage Butterscotch Bakelite Horse Head Pin

by Falls Avenue Vintage Fashion on Ruby Lane

Written by Laura Milera, Metro Retro Vintage


wizette said...

Very interesting! Difficult in this time to find bakelite isn't it?
Amsterdam is not so close so...I read your page!
Have a nice day! :)

Metro Retro Vintage said...

Thank you for your nice comments Wizette. The hunt for Bakelite continues and is always a lot of fun! :)


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