Early phenolformaldehyde-based plastic invented by Leo H. Baekeland in 1907 - the first completely synthetic resin.

Popular due to its versatility and many applications, bakelite quickly gained status as a household material since it replaced other, more expensive materials as ebony for billiard balls and ceramics or glass used in electrical insulators.

Older telephones are often made out of bakelite and considered de rigeur in any steampunk setting.

Bakelite is regarded as the precursor to all modern plastics -- along with celluloid, it was the first moldable, commercially viable synthetic. Its invention can also be looked at a precursor to deco and modern design: without it, there wouldn't have been a way to mass produce products with smooth, flowing lines.

Bakelite was (is?) a trade name of Baekeland's corporation. Until his patent expired in 1927, Bakelite was used mostly in industrial applications, such as automobile and electrical insulators. Once the patent lapsed, it broke into more widespread use.

Phenol formaldehyde is clear until filler is added, so bakelite was used in everything from jewelry to chairs. The bakelite radio case & speaker replaced wood and other more costly materials, radically reducing the radio's cost during the depression. Bakelite is one of the reasons that the radio, the first tool of live mass communication, was able to get into millions of homes across the world during the 1930s.

Today, Bakelite is a big collectable. Do a search for bakelite on ebay's completed auctions, ordered by descending bid price. Right now there are over a dozen auctions that closed over $1000.

Sources:
ebay
http://www.salvagnini.com/claudio/bakelite1.html
www.let.uu.nl/ams/xroads/bakelite.htm

A general term for phenol resin, used for heat and electrical insulation. The Bakelite used to stop Eva-00 when it went berserk during an experiment and also in the transport of Adam, etc., is a type of thermosetting resin which has the properties of super quick-drying concrete. Since all physical motion of an object encased by this Bakelite can be brought to a halt, it is also used to prevent the further intrusion of the JSSDF into NERV HQ in episode 25' "Air". On the other hand, the Japan Strategic Self Defence Force also uses Bakelite to prevent physical contact between the Third Children (Shinji Ikari) and Eva-01.

Source: The End of Evangelion : Glossary contained within The End of Evangelion - Theatrical Program.

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