Collecting Bakelite on a budget
Jun 6, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Bakelite is one of our favorite vintage plastic collectibles. The colors and shapes by themselves are stunning, not to mention how the material is well-suited for unique and quirky looks. We’re not alone in our love of bakelite and in fact, due to demand, it remains quite an expensive plastic to collect. But don’t despair; you can still find amazingly gorgeous pieces for a relatively small amount of investment. We’ve partnered with the amazing Linda Grossman and her mother, Evelyn Roth, at Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies to bring you some versatile options for collecting bakelite on a budget.
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.
“We have been dealing in vintage bakelite jewelry for well over 25 years and truly feel that it is never too late to start collecting, wearing and enjoying vintage bakelite jewelry. This form of vintage plastic jewelry is indeed a wonderful tribute to the designs contributed from the Art Deco era.”
How to collect bakelite on a budget
Once you start learning more about bakelite, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. This vintage plastic was used for all sorts of stunning purposes. Designers and artisans loved nothing more than to carve fanciful, organic, and geometric patterns. Whismical scotty dogs and other motifs are engaged in game boards, buttons, brooches, and flatware (to name just a few). Thanks to this range of functions, with a bit of expert knowledge you can discover some great ways to begin your collection. Whatever you do, don’t feel like you need to start off with expensive pieces. You can work your way toward these more substantial investments in time. In fact, we recommend starting off small because it does require some experience to identify real bakelite from the ever-growing inventory of fakelite. Until you feel confident determining authenticity, don’t go spending a big sum of money.
As you may imagine, the more detail (like carving, for example) or more rare the piece, the more costly the item. Yet due to their colorful and bright nature, we can show it is relatively easy to find something brilliant that won’t break the bank. Linda recommends four main jewelry pieces for this very purpose: spacers, earrings, bangles without carving, and dress clips. Spacer is a collector’s term for the thin bangle-like bracelets. They are typically about 1/4” wide and can be worn in combination with other spacers or in between bangles to create a beautiful band of color(s). In fact, the “spacer between bangles” style remains a quintessentially vintage look.
Bakelite earrings can be more challenging to find, but due to their small size you can typically purchase a carved or detailed set for a bargain. Retro earrings are a great way to draw attention to a vintage hair style and remain the best way to “top off” your look. Bangle bracelets remain a collector’s favorite. Style mavens just love the sound of them happily clicking together while you go about your day. Much like their thinner spacer counterparts, they are designed for stacking. This means they are very versatile and because they come in a variety of widths, you can truly create a multitude of looks from a small selection of bangles.
When it comes to versatility, perhaps dress clips take the cake. As we’ve shown you in a previous article, you can switch up their application in a variety of fun ways. With one piece you’ve got a hat topper, necklace pendant, brooch, collar accent, scarf clip, or pocket accent. Linda also has a great option to add to the mix: hair pin. Not only can you switch up your look from top to bottom, due to their small scale, you can find some exquisitely carved designs as well.
The biggest thing to remember when you start collecting bakelite on a budget is to be positive. Naturally shop owners and markets will be eager to put their more valuable treasures front and center, but don’t let that discourage you. Look left, right, up, and down – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find!
Cause A Frockus would like to thank the tremendous Linda and Evelyn at Evelynne’s Oldies But Goodies.
For our readers: Do you like to collect bakelite but are worried about your budget? Was this guide helpful? Tell us how you have grown your collection in the comments below!