Synthetic and semi-synthetic objects, c 1860-1920.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
These objects are all early examples of synthetic and semi-synthetic goods. The hair slide is made out of Parkesine, a mouldable material invented by Alexander Parkes in the 1860s. The hand mirror is from Ivoride, an early ivory substitute. The 1890 matchbox is made of an ebony imitation. The plastic film is made of cellulose nitrate, and was first used for motion pictures in 1887. The radio is encased in Bakelite, or phenolic resin, a plastic that is resistant to heat and insulates effectively.