Posts Tagged ‘bakelite’

A Bakelite plug

July 29, 2016

Most folks wouldn’t think of an electric plug as being interesting but this archaeological find certainly pleases me.


This might look ordinary enough except that its past ‘in the soil’ life means that mud is spilling out of it. It was clearly made by MK – still in business but it is made of elegant brown Bakelite. I see similar plugs described as art deco in style.


Here we can see that the three pins are round. This was a large size plug rated at 15 amps. Once upon a time houses had different sockets for different purposes and smaller 5 amp plugs and sockets were available and even smaller 2 amp systems as well.

A third photo shows the typical brown Bakelite best.


We can see the three pins are labelled L(ive), N(eutral) and E(arth). The grip screws are labelled as well. Back in the day we were expected to be able to put our own plugs on appliances. They were often sold with bare wire ends with the good excuse that they, the manufacturers, didn’t know what style of plug you’d want.

Bakelite bagatelle

December 20, 2014

Christmas is nearly upon us. It’s the season for games to appear and in our household we are not short of them. One of them is the game bagatelle – the sort of basic pinball where you push a ball up a slot onto a sloping table which is well equipped with pots to catch the ball (to score points) and nails for it to bounce off. The aim, of course, is to get a high score.

Our bagatelle board would once have been equipped with a spring loaded pusher, but we bought it at a jumble sale and so we just use a stick to push the balls (which are ball bearings. The board is made of a green coloured Bakelite.


Some of the printed score labels have worn away so we have had to use stick on paper labels. This is what a one ball sized pot should look like.


That little cup scores you 60 points.

This board was made by a company called Napro Productions


The best date I can find for these games is mid-20th century. Does anybody know better?

A Family Heirloom?

January 11, 2014

I don’t think my family have much in the way of valuable possessions so I use the word ‘heirloom’ in no financial sense. Rather I am looking at an object with over 70 years of family history, recording an event from nearly 100 years ago.

The item is a clock and it was recently passed to me by my sister. I am generally the receiver of items that relate to our family and I did know this was coming. It actually arrived as a Christmas present.

The clock is a wall mounted Smiths electric clock purchased in the early 1940s. As such it is really rather ordinary although I very much like its art deco style and I always have, for I have known this clock for ever. It is made in a material I’ll call Bakelite


Here’s the clock. The mains cable emerges from the top which seems a tad awkward these days. I have memories of a cable being taken off a light fitting to power this clock at one time. The white plastic coated cable will not be original and doesn’t quite seem in keeping. My memory isn’t clear, but I can imagine the original cable as being a rubber insulated, brown cotton covered pair of wires, twisted together. The knob at the bottom is for setting the time and, in theory, for starting the clock. The synchronous mo0tor used in this clock needs to get its rotor travelling at just the right speed to work. Once going it is very reliable and a first rate time keeper, but actually starting it does not seem to be at all easy.

Now let’s look at a clock detail – the metal plaque mounted inside.


This is what makes an ordinary and inconvenient clock into something special and a family heirloom. Harry was my father. Dora was his younger sister, my aunt. They purchased this clock to mark Mum and Dad’s Silver Wedding Anniversary on January 28th 1941. The happy couple, my grandparents, had been married at St Stephen’s Church in Bexhill precisely 25 years earlier in 1916.

Grandad died in 1966 (soon after the Golden Wedding). Granny died in 1972. I’m not sure when the clock passed to my sister, but it is now more than forty years since it left my grandparents’ home.

Now it will be one of those things my grandchildren see when they visit us. Maybe one day it will hang on a wall in one of their homes and they can tell their grandchildren about ancient relatives they never knew.