'Making Shell Lac', c 1845.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Vignette from a lithographic plate showing people procesing shellac. Shellac is produced from the secretions of small insects which live on acacia trees in India and south-east Asia, and was one of the first mouldable compounds, being used to make ornaments as well as being used to produce varnish. Another major use of the material was in making gramophone records from 1897 until the arrival of vinyl LPs in the 1950s. Taken from 'The Cochineal and Lac Insects' in 'Graphic Illustrations of Animals - Showing Their Utility to Man', illustrated by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and R K Thomas, printed by J Graf, C Graf, Day & Haghe, and published by Thomas Varty.