Bakelite expert | Linda Grossman at Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies
Mar 17, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Bakelite is not only one of the most innovative plastics of the 20th century, but it’s a fun collectible full of whimsy and glamor. Linda Grossman and her mother, Evelyn Roth, have been helping clients find stunning pieces for over 40 years. While they both have extensive experience in the world of antiques and admit that the Victorian era is a favorite, the splendor of bakelite continues to inspire their work and focus. We had an opportunity to discuss all things bakelite with Linda and we know you’ll find her advice and stories helpful. As always, we encourage you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments – tell us what you love about bakelite!
Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies
Linda is currently seeking people to consign their bakelite with her; please connect via telephone or through the shop’s website.
The colors are wonderful. The styles are wonderful. I love bakelite kitchen ware – it’s just so much fun. I never get tired of looking at colors, they’re like crayola colors. There are no rules with it – you have complete freedom. Even with the styles of flatware, there’s always something wonderful to find.
Learn more about the shop on their blog and Facebook page.
What clients experience at Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies
The mother and daughter team established their Ruby Lane shop eleven years ago with a few key tenets in mind: being fussy about the details, staying informative and accessible, and conveying their passion for bakelite to their clients. Everything in the shop is carefully curated and has to pass their own tests. If it’s not something they’d be proud to have in their own homes, it doesn’t make the cut. They see their online space as an art deco mini mall – never stagnant, always filled with new ideas and finds.
In addition to having a stunning inventory (check out that dress clip!), Evelynne’s Olides But Goodies stands for 100% customer service. As Linda notes, the internet can be a cold and lonely place. When you are buying something without looking at it, touching it, feeling it – that involves a higher degree of trust. That trust is taken very seriously and clients can be assured that any purchase they enjoy is authentic.
Even though the internet has changed the collecting landscape, they have developed ongoing rapport with their clients. Both Linda and Evelyn love the thrill of the chase and they’re very excited to help connect clients with the exact piece(s) they were looking for. Some people may remember growing up with a certain flatware set or they are remodeling a kitchen in a particular era; these are all great missions that they enjoy being a part of. And for Linda, it’s very personal – her collecting mission started when she moved to upstate New York and couldn’t afford new furnishings for her home. She ended up buying antique pieces and found herself surrounded by character and quality – it’s proven to be an infectious lifestyle choice as she still has those items. (I think we can all relate to that feeling!)
Bakelite expert advice
Their biggest tip is to buy what you like and don’t buy into a trend because they come and go. (For example, two years ago bangles were very popular.) Don’t buy something just because it’s a good buy. The key is in finding a person you can trust. If it’s too good to be true then it usually is and isn’t authentic. When you can, buy something in mint condition – perfect. In her case she doesn’t want to have to explain flaws to a buyer.
Be certain of its authenticity – there are a lot of fakes out there. Linda said we’ve covered the best ways to ensure authenticity in our bakelite article, but she adds that it is best to test it in front of the person selling it if you can. If you aren’t sure by scent, ask to run to the bathroom so you can test it with water. As you continue exploring, it will become much easier for you to separate the real from the fake.
How to care for bakelite flatware
If you collect metal pieces accented with bakelite, you may wonder the best way to clean and care for these pieces. As a bakelite expert, Linda advises the careful approach is the best approach. You should never run these through the dishwasher – always wash by hand in warm, soapy water.
You can incorporate these items into every day use and while you have to avoid hot liquid when it comes to celluloid – bakelite is very durable and handles heat well. Bakelite and chrome was such a popular combination, she advises clients to take care in maintaining their investment.
How did you learn what you know about bakelite?
Linda learned by being submerged in it: researching, reading, and going to classes. It also helps having her mom as a resource. Because she lived through the bakelite years, she understands the Art Deco period, the styling, and the intricacies of the more unique pieces. The best thing to do is be an active shopper, go out and experience – talk with vendors and remain conscious of the bakelite that you find. When you learn by traveling you get the side benefit of making amazing memories!
What is one of your favorite pieces and favorite client stories?
We can all relate to finding that diamond in the rough – it’s thrilling to find something with historical significance but you get to be the first to make it part of your own story. For Linda, she found a beautiful service for six, twenty nine pieces in total, in the box and in mint condition. It was like nothing she’d ever seen before and it took her breath away. As you can see from the picture – it will be a stunning asset to any dining party!
Linda counts herself lucky as a proprietor as she’s gotten to know many of her clients on a more personal basis. But she says one of her favorite stories involves a bit of Hollywood royalty. She had a particular client who was a devoted collector of Chase bakelite. One day he expressed an interest in Rosemary Clooney records and she said she’d keep her ear to the ground and send any finds his way. He had told her he was from a theatrical family and assumed a musical interest explained this new hobby. When she inquired about it he responded by saying that Rosemary Clooney was his mother!
Cause A Frockus would like to thank the amazing Linda and Evelyn at Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies.
For our readers: Tell us about your favorite bakelite finds! Have any questions for Linda? Share them with us below!
Fun sitet and valuable information on bakelite!!!
Thank you! Linda is an amazing expert and the perfect bakelite resource!
I just bought 4 cherry salt and pepper shakers thinking they were bakelite. Have these been reproduced? Thanking you in advance.
Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately a lot of bakelite pieces have been reproduced in modern times. Best way to know for sure is to test it. We’ve created an article with ways to authenticate bakelite – feel free to check it out: http://www.causeafrockus.com/2013/12/ode-bakelite/
These have tested positive, except the black one. They are lighter, thinner and the metal leaves not as strong as my other ones. They are still beautiful but I am wondering if these were made by a competitive company years ago. Do you think that could be possible? Thanks.
I own two bangle bakelite bracelets that I have tested as authentic collectibles. My mother gave these to me before she died and she had them since 1930. One is very decorative, with hand carved tiny little flowers and the other one has slashes like wheat. I am just curious as to how I could find the value of the bracelets? If you send me an email address, I’ll send you pictures. Thanks.
Thanks for reaching out – the bracelets sound great! I am not an appraiser so I cannot speak to value. I would recommend reaching out to our expert Linda Grossman on her Facebook page or via the contact information on her site (you’ll find both links within this article). She can speak more to determining value.
i have a very old necklace that has several different shapes beads. It appears to be extremely old. My issue is that some of the beads tested positive for Bakelite while some did not. Some of the beads have black “holes” all over. It doesn’t look like the hot pin test, but I’m curious to know if maybe you could tell me what causes this as I’ve seen it in a few while doing research. If you send me an email I can send pictures. Thanks in advance.
Thanks for reaching out. If you could send the email with pictures I’ll get it forwarded on to Linda for her to take a peek at. Sounds like an interesting piece – excited to see it!