Framed samples of Chardonnet artificial silk, 1896.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Three samples of viscose rayon (artificial silk) are mounted onto the advertisement. This fibre is based on cellulose nitrate and was patented by Count Hilaire de Chardonnet in 1884. Samples were shown at the Paris Exhibition in 1889. Early plastics based on cellulose nitrate are unstable and show characteristic signs of degradation as they age. This can be seen with these samples as they are yellowing and starting to liquidise.