Dec 2, 2013 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Plastics were the super material and technological break through of the mid 20th century, with lucite being one of its more popular creations. Finding its place in a time when chaos and war were supreme, lucite can be found in the sweetheart pins worn by anxious young ladies or in living rooms around the country as people eagerly awaited news from the front. John with Beaverdale Vintage shares with us a lovely lucite purse – its sparkle and shine perfectly captures the allure of this amazing material.
Meet our shop owner, John with Beaverdale Vintage. Here shoppers will find an abundance of retro treasures as well as get expert advice. John is known for his taste in design and can happily guide clients on their collecting journey.
3702 Beaver Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50310
Lucite | The Early Years
Developed in 1928 by DuPont, this transparent thermoplastic was marketed as an alternative for glass. Known for its lightweight and shatter-resistant qualities, it was a favored material for many an artist (like Salvador Dali) and commonly used for household applications.
It officially debuted in 1937 (alongside nylon) and was a star attraction a couple years later in DuPont’s Wonder World of Chemistry. At this exhibit, a modern lamp made entirely out of Lucite gained a lot of buzz, but was soon overshadowed by something more alluring: Princess Plastic, the event’s siren, whose walking stick, necklace, and bracelet were all formed of lucite.
Lucite was a timely introduction as many metals and other materials were being commissioned for military uses. Due to this, you’ll find a lot of jewelry or home accessories from WWII to be constructed of Lucite and other plastics.
While it is naturally transparent, it can be tinted with color or have other elements introduced into the mold.
Popular Types of Lucite
- Moonglow lucite – looks as if it is internally lit, has a glossy and almost opalescent finish
- Confetti lucite – when glittery elements are found within the lucite
- Granite lucite – lucite pieces of different colors blended together to give a faux granite appearance
- Embedded lucite – transparent lucite with a found object embedded within the composition
- Jelly bellies – jewelry created by Crown Trifari (and later copied with some scandal by Coro) where the body or belly portion of the figure is polished lucite
Cause A Frockus would like to thank our tremendous resources: American Plastic: A Cultural History by Jeffrey L. Meikle, Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century by Stephen Fenichell, Ebay, Collectors Weekly, Antiques Roadshow, the lovely people who put their images on Wikipedia without restriction, and Wikipedia.
For our readers, do you love lucite like we do? Have any tips or tricks for finding and maintaining your collection? Share your thoughts and pictures in the comments below!