Thermos jug, c 1930-1950.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Made of brown bakelite. Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-American chemist, announced the world's first artificial plastic in 1909. Bakelite, as he called the plastic, was a powder that set when it was heated and presed. It did not conduct heat or electricity, so it was a good replacement for pottery parts in electrical equipment.