Vintage Bakelite Flatware
Vintage Bakelite flatware is cutlery made of the early plastic, Bakelite.
History & Description
Bakelite was developed by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in 1907 and was used during the early- and mid-twentieth century for a number of diverse products such as jewellery, children’s toys, telephone casing and electrical insulators. Due to Bakelite’s heat-resistant properties and its ability to be finished in a variety of colours, it was also a favoured material for the handles of flatware.
Flatware is used to serve, prepare and eat food. The most common being knives, forks and spoons and are commonly referred to as silverware – though this suggests the presence of silver – and cutlery.
Guide for collectors
Vintage Bakelite flatware is occasionally sold through national auction houses. However, collectors are much more likely to purchase products from eBay, which regularly advertises a large and varied selection of vintage Bakelite products.
Collectors should look out for products that are unused and come in their original packaging as these regularly achieve the highest prices. Moreover, two-tone Bakelite flatware – i.e. handles finished in more than one colour – is also highly sought after by collectors.
Notable auction sales
On May 20th 2012, a thirty-four piece set of Art Deco Bakelite two-tone cherry red and butterscotch flatware, unused in its original box and original paperwork, was sold on eBay for $499.99.
On February 22nd 2012, a thirty-two piece set of Art Deco Bakelite two-tone cherry teardrop and butterscotch flatware, circa 1939, was sold on eBay for $475.
On December 14th 2004 at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago, Illinois, a thirty-nine piece set of vintage Bakelite flatware realised a price of $275.
On January 29th 2007 at Applebrook Auctions & Estate Sales in New Milford, Connecticut, a twenty-six piece set of vintage Bakelite two-tone butterscotch and amber flatware realised a price of $225.
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