Bakelite pin tray, 1950.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Marked 'With the compliments of the Bakelite Company, 12-16 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1' and the company's logo. The hinged lid is in the company's trefoil shape. The initial uses of phenolic resins were for varnishes and laminates used as electrical insulators. The first synthetic thermosetting plastic was patented in 1909 by Leo Baekeland (1863-1944), a Belgian-born chemist who emigrated to the United States in 1889. When combined with a wood flour filler, phenol formaldehyde, known by its trade name 'Bakelite', after its inventor, forms a useful mouldable plastic, with very good electrical insulating properties.