My latest flea market find is a 1930s Premier Premalite / Bakelite manicure set in orange juice. The swirl of colors in the early plastic is why it’s identified in color as it is.
Premalite came after Bakelite, a type of molded plastic that was used to make kitchen items, children’s toys and jewelry. It was invented in 1907, by Leo Baekeland, a Belgian-American chemist, in Yonkers, New York. I have loved it for as long as I can remember. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother who was born in a covered wagon in Indian Territory in 1898. The exact location is near present-day Stroud.
I found the manicure set at Mary’s Swap Meet in Spencer, Oklahoma, not far from Oklahoma City. I always wonder the origin of things like this. Who owned it and what’s the story behind it? More importantly, who kept hold of it all these years? I paid just $1 for it! Based on eBay sales of similar items, it’s worth about $50 to $75.
Bakelite Manicure Set
More Flea Market Finds
You never know what you’re going to find at the flea market. Take this car for example. I think I know what Shantel might like for Christmas. Keep the faith, girl. It’s a rough-and-tumble world out there.
I try to breeze through the swap meet quickly, which isn’t always the best strategy. I wish I had time to linger at every table to see what there is to see. Some days, it feels like it’s mostly junk, while other days, we discover real vintage treasures. Above is a train case we came across today, complete with the name and address of the original owner written on the luggage tag. Martha died in 2012.
I always take the kids with me to the flea market. I give them five to 10 one dollar bills and let them buy whatever they want with it. Sullivan started a collection of screwdrivers. We’ve been on the hunt for blue handles for a long time as they’re hard to find. He bought these for 10 cents each! There is nothing you can buy for a dime anymore.
As far as the manicure set goes, I love all things Bakelite so much. It reminds me of all the little old ladies in all the small churches I attended growing up. There was always lots of it in their houses along with celluloid and lucite, other vintage plastics . I marveled at how it was neither plastic nor glass. Of course, in the end, it was plastic, just not like my Generation X-era Barbie dream house, dolls and toys.
Do you have any Bakelite memories?