Cigarette box, c 1930.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A rectangular Eloware (phenol formaldehyde) cigarette box with hinged lid moulded in Asyrian style depicting a horseman spearing a lion. 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. Eloware is another trade name for the same material. Made by Birkby's Ltd, England.