Oval moulded plastic serving dish, 1950s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The dish is made of urea formaldehyde and decorated with a mermaid seated in a scallop shell. Encouraged by the succes of phenol formaldehydes such as Bakelite, alternative resins were sought by scientists. Thiourea-urea-formaldehyde was developed by Edmund Rositer in 1924, and by 1929 urea-formaldehyde had improved properties. Urea-formaldehyde resins allowed a wider range of colours than the earlier phenolic resins, including light, bright colours and so became popular for crockery and picnic sets.