Like all things retro, Bakelite is making a comeback in a big way, and we’ve been seeing a lot of it at estate sales lately.
Bakelite is the world’s first synthetic plastic and was invented by Leo Baekeland in 1907, who called it “a non-melting, non-dissolving solid like nothing found in nature.” The scientific name is ispolyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride. Lucky for us, the name “Bakelite” (pronounced “bake-light”) is a lot less of a mouthful!

Part of Bakelite’s popularity is due to its smooth shiny texture and bright colors – it’s “young, fun, and unselfconsciously stylish.” Bakelite is also easy to work with since it’s easily moldable, production scalable, and the final product retains its original shape without scratching or bending. Because it’s cheap to produce, it was used in many products during the midcentury, like machine guns, saxophone mouth pieces, poker chips, kitchenware, buttons, and cameras, before it was eventually replaced with better, cheaper plastics.

While Bakelite wasn’t viewed as ground-breaking back in the day, like everything midcentury modern, it has become highly collectible. So keep an eye out at estate sales and buyer beware of fakes!

1. Bakelite Bangles

A photo posted by ? ? (@heavenly_bakelite) on

2. Bakelite “Beauties”

A photo posted by RUDI ROCKET (@rudirocket) on

3. Bakelite Prayer Beads

A photo posted by Rebecca (@squirreljunkie) on

4. Bakelite Rotary Phone

A photo posted by craig burston (@skipratmedia) on

5. Bakelite Horse Pin

6. Bakelite Flatware

7. Bakelite Napkin Rings

8. Bakelite Vintage Purses

9. Bakelite Vintage Radio

10. Bakelite Mah Jong Tiles

A photo posted by خالد (@misabeeh) on

11. Bakelite Toy Car

A photo posted by @oneminutemuseum on

12. Bakelite Chairs

A photo posted by G (@trade20th) on

13. Bakelite Vintage Jar Lid

14. Vintage Bakelite Button Box


15. Bakelite Backgammon Pieces Set

A photo posted by @sowavintage on

16. Bakelite Dice


16 Photos of Vintage Bakelite

What Bakelite estate sale finds have you come across? Share your photos in the comments below!