Ivory celluloid handbag mount, c 1920s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Celluloid, like Parkesine, is based on cellulose nitrate but includes camphor as a plasticiser, making moulding easier. It was patented in America in 1870. Early applications included billiard balls, knife handles and small decorative items, often succesfully imitating ivory or tortoiseshell. Once it was cast as film, celluloid made the development of cinema posible.