Grays Catalin Staunton Chessmen, 3.0″ King.
Offered here is a fine set of Grays Catalin Staunton Chessmen. This set of chessmen has a 3.0″ tall King with a 1.2″ diameter base. The chessmen are a very attractive marbleized butterscotch and cherry red colored Catalin. The chessmen are housed in a green felt-lined wooden hinge-top fitted case. The chessmen are in excellent condition, the box exhibits some surface scratching. These particular Grays Catalin Staunton Chessmen were produced around 1930.
Bakelite, or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, is an early plastic. It is a thermo-setting phenol formaldehyde resin, developed by Belgian-born chemist Leo Baekeland in New York in 1907. Baekeland was already as successful inventor due to his invention of Velox photographic paper, when he began to investigate the reactions of phenol and formaldehyde. Chemists had begun to recognize that many natural resins and fibers were polymers. Baekeland’s initial intent was to find a replacement for shellac, a material that was in limited supply because it was made naturally from the excretion of lac bugs. Baekeland produced a soluble phenol-formaldehyde shellac called “Novolak”, but it was not a market success. One of the first plastics made from synthetic components, Bakelite was used for its electrical non-conductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings, and such diverse products as kitchenware and children’s toys. The “retro” appeal of old Bakelite products has made them collectible.