How I Test for Bakelite
Simichrome Polish is my #1 go-to and personal favorite. I have seen a few comments regarding 'false negative' results with this method, but that's okay with me; I would much rather err on the side of caution when it comes to this.
No matter what color your button is, if it is Bakelite, you will get the yellow residue, which is a positive result. For instance, the red, green and brown buttons all give the same result:
Bakelite has a different sound...heavier, clunkier. I have also tested pieces with only the friction of my thumb: if you put the piece between your fingers and rub it until your thumb begins to get warm, you will smell 'the smell.' Some describe it as a petroleum based smell, others formaldehyde. Truth is, once you smell it, you will know that smell from that point forward.
Bakelite also comes in an extremely wide range of colors! Many of those colors are very difficult to find any more, and some of that is due to oxidation. Some shades of brown, when sanded, will reveal lavender! It came in translucent and transparent colors, as well as some 'pearl' colors. Pink, bright orange, blue, ivory and tan are among the palette colors produced, in addition to the more common reds, greens, browns, black, 'creamed corn' and 'butterscotch'.
It can be layered, carved, molded and was used for many different styles of buttons over the years as well as buckles and clasps.
I know this is really basic, and truth be told, I am certainly no expert! I have a whole library of button reference books and learn something new every single day...which I love!
What type would you like to see good examples of for the next Button article? Lots more photos with that one...I promise! China? Goofies (aka: realistic)? Maybe Goodyear Rubber, whistles or glass... Chime in and let me know what YOU want to see!
Until next time,