A pair of dice made in imitation ivory celluloid, early 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Celluloid is based on cellulose nitrate. A direct descendant of Parkesine developed in Britain around 1860, Celluloid was patented in America in 1870. Early applications included billiard balls, knife handles and small decorative items, often succesfully imitating ivory or tortoiseshell, as well as collars and cuffs. By 1888 it could be produced in sheets thin and uniform enough to make film, and so Celluloid made the development of cinema posible.