How to Tell If Something Is Lucite?

Written by alane michaelson
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How to Tell If Something Is Lucite?
There are several types of vintage plastics. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

DuPont developed Lucite, a specific brand of plastic, in 1937. Lucite was most popular during the 1940s and 1950s and was used in the manufacture of jewellery, hard-sided handbags, and other accessories. Other popular synthetics in use at that time include celluloid and Bakelite. These materials were developed somewhat earlier, around the turn of the 20th Century. These plastics each have unique characteristics, making it easy to identify Lucite.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hot water

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  1. 1

    Check the plastic for cracks or other signs of brittleness. If the plastic is brittle but still somewhat flexible, it could indicate that the piece is celluloid, which tends to become brittle with age.

  2. 2

    Feel the weight of the plastic. If it seems relatively heavy and sturdy, the plastic is more likely to be Bakelite than Lucite. Bakelite is also likely to discolour with age, or develop a patina.

  3. 3

    Run the plastic under hot water. Celluloid gives off a vinegar-like smell when run under hot water, while Bakelite smells acidic. Lucite emits no odour at all when run under hot water, and this is the most reliable way to distinguish it from other vintage plastics.

Tips and warnings

  • Lucite was often manufactured with other materials, such as glitter or seashells, embedded it in.

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