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Featured ArticleBakelite

"Plastics, Benjamin..."
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In the mid-1960's, the first group of baby boomers headed for college and the world of work. Adorned with fringe and polyester daisies, we created an aesthetic based on the Beatles, bellbottoms and lava lamps. In an era which lionized the new, few of us considered the aging hoards in Grandma's attic. Not until we became our parents did we realize what we were missing. As antique shows and flea markets proliferate, middle aged bargain hunters -- we swore we'd never trust anyone over thirty! -- search the American countryside to reclaim the throwaway memorabilia of their youth. The Pez dispenser once thoughtlessly discarded may now be worth (literally) a mint. Pez's Green Hornet and Psychidelic Eye from the 60's command hundreds of dollars.

Mom and Grandma wore bracelets made from an early synthetic resin ("Plastics, Benjamin...") that offered color and quantity at low cost. While we were twining our limbs with hemp and leather, Generation Mother was bundling its bangles in the back of a jewelry box. Thirty years later, Bakelite jewelry is avidly collected by people who pay astronomic prices for plastic while wincing at the memory of Aunt Betty's sequestered stash. For any item you might choose to collect, there is probably a collector's club and a reference in countless journals. Antiquing as an avocation has much to offer -- travel, camaraderie, surprise, and maybe even a reunion with Patty Playpal. Remember, in 1951, she was just as tall as you. My, how we've grown.

Written by Marcia Brown Rubinstien
Written by Marcia Brown Rubinstien
September 28, 1997

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