CELLULOID “ADAMANTINE” by John Bowman 2023
CELLULOID (a brand-name) was the first plastic material. It was developed in the early 1860s from a mixture of nitro-cellulose (cellulose from plant fiber) and camphor. Celluloid, a malleable substance in its early development was made to resemble Ivory and Marble finishes. Celluloid replaced many items that used expensive real Ivory and was then commonly called: “Ivorine” or “French Ivory”. It was useful for producing cheap Jewelry, Jewelry boxes, hair accessories, etcetera, and etcetera. Another of its early uses, it replaced piano keys then manufactured using real Ivory. Celluloid is used today in musical instruments especially accordions and guitars. Celluloid was printed on cloth and wood, and was made to resemble expensive wood grains, or materials like marble or granite. Furniture items were often covered with celluloid in the same manner as similar thin wood veneers.
In Victorian furnished homes, in the late 1800s fireplace Mantles were especially veneered with Faux Marbled Celluloid. The “Seth Thomas” clock company made shelf clocks to sit on these Victorian mantles. Circa 1880, Seth Thomas mantle clocks were veneered with celluloid which they called “Adamantine”. Veneered Mantle Clocks, (adamantine finished clock cases) were made in black, white and alabaster and rare colored wood grains and patterns that resembled Onyx or Marble.
Faux Marble veneered (Celluloid) Mantles was sold in Wheeling, Virginia, (West Virginia) by Cushing & Osbun. Many of these old mantles still exist in Wheeling homes today. Cushing & Osbun advertised; they manufactured “Black And Fancy Colored Leather Cloth, (Leatheroid) and Green Transparent Celluloid Window Cloth”.
Another imitation product is “Leatheroid”. See Post:
“WHEELING MANUFACTURED PAPER AND TURNED IT INTO LEATHER ‘LEATHEROID’ INVENTED IN WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA” by John Bowman 2018
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