1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Help with dating a bakelite necklace

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by Elly Maggy Vintage, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member VFG Past President

    Hmmmm...There is also Novus. It produces a much lighter yellow result when I use it but it does produce a yellow result too. I don't know if that might be available there.
  2. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Novus does seem to be available here. is this the one you mean?


    They seem to do Novus 1, 2 and 3 - is that what they do in the USA?

    What I need to do really, is get something I know is bakelite, and try Peek on it, to see if it works. But I don't have any I'm sure is bakelite to test. Which is the problem, I can try, but unless I get definite yellow result, I don't know if it's the polish that's at fault, or if the item isn't bakelite.
  3. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member VFG Past President

    Yes, I have Novus 1. I am not sure about Peek or any of the other metal polishes. If any of the ingredients are different the reaction may be different.

    I did find some simichrome results on UK eBay.

  4. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, you can sometimes buy it, people import it and sell it specifically for bakelite testing. It's not easily available though, like in your hardware store. £14 ($24) seems like a lot for a small tube of polish, which is why I've always wanted to find a UK equivalent at a reasonable price

    How much does a small tube of Simichrome cost in the US?

    My understanding of how simichrome works for testing bakelite is by abrasion against the oxidised surface, with the oxidisation coming off onto the cloth along with the polish. Other plastics don't oxidise, which is why they don't create those yellow streaks when polished. So in theory, any abrasive metal polish should work, and I have read that you can use other metal polishes. But I've never heard of anyone doing a definitive test to find an equivalent to simichrome here.
    peaceful vintage likes this.
  5. peaceful vintage

    peaceful vintage Administrator Staff Member VFG Past President

    Yes, there is some fine grit or other abrasive ingredient that causes some of that patina to rub off. I buy a 50 gram bottle of Simichrome here for $8.75 including shipping. Novus is completely liquid and has the same consistency as Windex so whatever causes the reaction or patina to rub off rather is not an abrasive grit that you can feel. I guess that might be why the yellow reaction is lighter. It would be interesting to see if, and what other metal/plastic polishes work to test and sounds like a good blog waiting to happen. ;)
    Retro Ruth likes this.
  6. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    You are right! I should write that blog.
    peaceful vintage likes this.
  7. Elly Maggy Vintage

    Elly Maggy Vintage Registered Guest

    Thanks very much, Ruth and Caryn! I am going to look into getting something to test the material with :)
  8. I have some of these by another seller.
    Elly Maggy Vintage likes this.
  9. poppysvintageclothing

    poppysvintageclothing VFG Board Member Staff Member VFG Past President

  10. Metro Retro Vintage

    Metro Retro Vintage VFG Member

    UK friends, just use Mr. Muscle or any kitchen degreaser or car polish to test. There's little difference. If it doesn't have ammonia, all the better.

    I personally don't like Simichrome, although it's very popular.
    Retro Ruth likes this.
  11. Pinkcoke

    Pinkcoke Alumni

    Really? All the UK supermarkets have Mr Muscle, in fact several varieties... I guess we're talking about just the basic one?
    What about Cif? it's very abrasive though.
  12. Metro Retro Vintage

    Metro Retro Vintage VFG Member

  13. Linn

    Linn VFG Board Member Staff Member VFG Past President

    I have used the Bakelite testing pads with great success but most of the time I test for Bakelite by rubbing the piece as hard as I can - until it is warm and then sniffing. As has already been mentioned, Bakelite has a distinct chemical odor and once you learn to recognize it there is no question. Also as has already been mentioned, you can run it under hot water for just a minute but you need to be sure that it won't be damaged or ruined if it gets wet. If there are any stones or exposed string, be careful. I have had pieces that I thought were amber turn out to be Bakelite. I have a number of tortoise or "root beer" Bakelite pieces - bangles and dress clips. Lucite (and other plastics can be made to look like tortoise, as well.

    Again, it's already been mentioned that some Bakelite will not test - if it is coated, if it is very very clean and all the oxidation has been removed. Usually pieces that are red or black do not test. There are other tests to distiquish the different types of plastics including weight and the sounds they make when struck like clicking vs clunking, etc. It's hard to tell from a photo!

    It's a great necklace but I don't think it is by Bonaz. The pieces in the front are not lined up as precisely as they would be. Every example I could find by Bonaz was made from colored opaque Galith and they all close with barrel clasps. Galalith is also an early plastic that it is similar to Bakelite in looks but is a milk by-product (cassein and formaldhyde) and smells like sour milk when warmed. I have never seen the clasp used on your necklace, although a number of other people have. I agree that it is probably older than '80's but not as old as '20's or '30's - and probably not French. (Bonaz died in 1922.)

    I would try to do some more research both online and in books to see if you can find a comparable piece. You've already mentioned that you plan to test it and you might want to do some of the other test to determine if it is Bakelite. I looked at Cathy Gordon's Bonaz pieces, two examples in Sylvie Raulet's "Art Deco Jewelry" and the chapter on France in Ginger Moro's "European Designer Jewelry, " and did a search. Most French neclaces of this type have barrel clasps. I have had French necklaces with spring ring closures.
    Thanks for sharing this piece!

    Elly Maggy Vintage likes this.
  14. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

  15. Elly Maggy Vintage likes this.
  16. Linn, you are so right.....I just found a piece of Bonaz on Kim DeWitt Paff's FB page and in her shop on Etsy and it does have the barrel clasp. The piece on this thread does not and that raised a red flag for me.
    Elly Maggy Vintage likes this.
  17. Metro Retro Vintage

    Metro Retro Vintage VFG Member

    Hi Ruth -- I don't have Mr. Muscle here, but I have long known people to use the kitchen surface cleaner. Products that remove and cut grime or grease in the bathroom or kitchen work pretty well also.
    Retro Ruth likes this.
  18. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks Laura. So it doesn't have to be abrasive, just grime removing?
  19. Elly Maggy Vintage

    Elly Maggy Vintage Registered Guest

    Thanks so much for all your help everyone! This has been a fascinating thread. I am going to contact Kim de Witt Paff, as suggested, and see if she can offer some advice. The clasp does look different from other Bonaz pieces...
  20. Metro Retro Vintage

    Metro Retro Vintage VFG Member

    Elly, when I first saw your necklace, one of the first things I noticed were the bead tips and the possibility of it being restrung. When you mentioned the clear stretch wire, it confirmed this possibility, since memory wire and stretchy monofilament are commonly used by a lot of people. The clasp in use is often seen in 20's and up, and thereby period, but it doesn't mean that it's original.

    Now that I've said the above, I threw out a name for you to pursue, but am seeing a ton of responses about what the necklace is or isn't in a definitive way -- which was not my intention.

    Keywords are your friend. Especially when they help you explore a path that you (and others) may not have ever considered before, as well as help you expand your own knowledge base -- especially in regard to 'style' and important designers and their influence. This should be a given.

    I hope you find out as much information as possible about your necklace from the many excellent resource links provided on the thread.

    Bonaz himself died in '22. His firm did not.

    The necklace could in fact be French, but I don't know if we will be able to ascertain that here.

    Great discussion everyone. It also helped with getting the word out about Bakelite testing once again.

Share This Page