Coxsackie Antique Center

Where Yesterday Meets Tomorrow

Catalin (erroneously called BAKELITE)

Catalin is the beautiful, brightly colored plastic popular during from the 1930s into the 1950s for jewelry and many other decorative items. Many popular old designs are being copied - World's fair items, kitchen items, napkin rings, as well as jewelry. (Bakelite is a dark, hard, and somewhat brittle plastic with a matte surface used for utilitarian items such as electric fixtures, pot handles, etc., but seldom for decorative items.)

Because the chemical formulas are well known, it is relatively easy to mix up a new batch of Catalin and copy earlier designs. We saw whole booths full of catalin jewelry at the Bouckville antique show this year. It's very difficult to distinquish between old and new. Look for signs of sloppy craftsmanship - saw marks, file marks, incomplete polishing. Look for incongruous design elements.

A lot of the new catalin has hints of 1960s and 70s hippy/psychedelic motifs. And look for quantity. A booth full of catalin is highly suspect.

© 1997-2002 Coxsackie Antique Center

Last Modified: