Viscose rayon (artificial silk), 1896-1900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Six skeins and one spool of Chardonnet silk made at Wolston, near Coventry, under Count Hilaire de Chardonnet's (1839-1934) supervision. Chardonnet's artificial silk was based on cellulose nitrate. The product was very attractive, and when exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1889 it gained the Grand Prix. The major flaw was its flammability, as initially the thread was not denitrated and eventually production was banned in France. Chardonnet then opted for Swan's denitration proces. Unfortunately this proces weakened the fibres making them brittle.