Susan Mossman

Early plastics: perspectives 1850–1950


Ferrum 89/2017

Plastics had their origins in the mid-nineteenth century and underwent extraordinary growth and proliferation over the next 150 years. The reliance on natural and then semi-synthetic “plastics” gave way to the development of the first truly synthetic plastic, Bakelite, in 1907. From then on the range and uses of plastics developed in a multiplicity of ways. Over time, plastics have proved to be the eminently transmutable and almost magical material envisaged in the dreams of the early plastic pioneers. The next fifty years heralded a range of exciting new plastics and what as been referred to as the “Plastics Age”.


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