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Thread: How Leo Bakeland saved billiards and elephants.

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    Senior Member DiabloViejo's Avatar
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    How Leo Bakeland saved billiards and elephants.

    In the early 1900's Leo Baekeland developed the first fully synthetic artificial plastic as a substitute for ivory in billiard balls. Baekeland's discovery was a phenolic resin which he named "Bakelite". Bakelite was not explosive or flammable, it was easy to work with, and more importantly, its playing characteristics were very similar to ivory. Finally, after many years the billiard industry and the billiard playing public had a substitute that most felt was on a par with ivory. Bakelite became widely used world-wide as an ivory substitute and was advertised as "the material of a thousand uses". Elephants everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Today 80% of the world's pool balls are manufactured in Belgium by a company named Saluc, their products are sold under the Aramith and Crystalate (snooker) brands.

    Read the caption in this photograph:




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    Off the top of my head i seem to remember Parkes (or someone) inventing Parkesine (or something) in about 1866 made of cellulose etc which woz the first artificial non-ivory billiards ball. I think there woz a $2000 (or somesuch) reward in there somewhere too. But Parkes went broke koz hiz balls were too expensive.

    Then someone else (Brunswick???) did a better job with cellulose, making Crystalate (???) balls i think, probly in 1888 (???). Uzing ox shinbone for filler.

    Bakelite woz invented in 1917 (????) and went into proper production in 1922 (???). I suppose that the patent lapsed in 1934 (??). But all of this iz probly wrong.
    Duzzenmadder.
    mac.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cushioncrawler View Post
    Off the top of my head i seem to remember Parkes (or someone) inventing Parkesine (or something) in about 1866 made of cellulose etc which woz the first artificial non-ivory billiards ball. I think there woz a $2000 (or somesuch) reward in there somewhere too. But Parkes went broke koz hiz balls were too expensive.

    Then someone else (Brunswick???) did a better job with cellulose, making Crystalate (???) balls i think, probly in 1888 (???). Uzing ox shinbone for filler.

    Bakelite woz invented in 1917 (????) and went into proper production in 1922 (???). I suppose that the patent lapsed in 1934 (??). But all of this iz probly wrong.
    Duzzenmadder.
    mac.

    In 1863 the firm of Phelan and Collender offered a prize of $10,000.00 for the patent rights to anyone who could develop a suitable substitute for ivory in billiard balls.

    In 1868 John Hyatt invented the first composition ball. The balls were made mostly from pulp and gum shellac. In 1869 Hyatt developed a new ball with the addition of a hard, shiny, and perfectly smooth outer casing of collodian. The Hyatt Co. dubbed their new ball with the name "celluloid".

    The celluloid manufacturing process was a dangerous business, as the materials used (gun cotton, nitrocellulose, camphor, alcohol, shellac) were explosive. In fact, the Hyatt factory in Newark, NJ was the site of 39 explosions and fires in 36 years. Perhaps because of the reports of explosions at the factory, stories began to abound about celluloid billiards balls exploding on impact when hit hard. Actually the balls were not exploding, but were in fact shattering due to a manufacturing defect which was eventually addressed by Hyatt. Celluloid balls eventually became accepted, although purists still demanded ivory and shuddered at the thought of playing with inferior celluloid balls.

    Leo Baekeland developed the first artificial plastic, a phenolic resin which he named "Bakelite". Bakelite was not explosive or flammable, it was easy to work with, and more importantly, its playing characteristics were very similar to ivory.

    Bakelite is the result of a polymerization process, between phenol and formaldehyde heated together. The reactions are complex, but the final result is a hard "plastic" made of cross-linked polymer chains.

    Phenolic resin compounds have become the standard, and preferred, material for Pool, Billiards, and Snooker balls.


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    The First Man-Made Plastic - Parkesine
    The first man-made plastic was created by Alexander Parkes who publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. The material called Parkesine was an organic material derived from cellulose that once heated could be molded, and retained its shape when cooled.
    Last edited by cushioncrawler; 03-14-2014 at 07:48 PM.

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    Nitrocellulose[edit]
    Nitrocellulose-based plastics slightly predate celluloid. Collodion, invented in 1848 and used as a wound dressing and an emulsion for photographic plates, is dried to a celluloid-like film.

    Alexander Parkes[edit]
    The first celluloid as a bulk material for forming objects was made in 1855 in Birmingham, England, by Alexander Parkes, who was never able to see his invention reach full fruition, after his firm went bankrupt due to scale-up costs.[3] Parkes patented his discovery after realising a solid residue remained after evaporation of the solvent from photographic collodion.

    Parkes patented it as a clothing waterproofer for woven fabrics in the same year. Later in 1862, Parkes showcased Parkesine at the Great Exhibition in London, where he was awarded a bronze medal for his efforts. The introduction of Parkesine is generally regarded as the birth of the plastics industry.[3]

    John Wesley Hyatt[edit]
    In the 1860s, an American, John Wesley Hyatt, acquired Parkes's patent and began experimenting with cellulose nitrate with the intention of manufacturing billiard balls, which until that time were made from ivory. He used cloth, ivory dust, and shellac, and on April 6, 1869, patented a method of covering billiard balls with the addition of collodion. With assistance from Peter Kinnear and other investors,[4] Hyatt formed the Albany Billiard Ball Company (1868–1986) in Albany, New York, to manufacture the product. In 1870, John and his brother Isaiah patented a process of making a "horn-like material" with the inclusion of cellulose nitrate and camphor.[5] Alexander Parkes and Daniel Spill (see below) listed camphor during their earlier experiments, calling the resultant mix "xylonite", but it was the Hyatt brothers who recognized the value of camphor and its use as a plasticizer for cellulose nitrate. Isaiah Hyatt dubbed his material "celluloid" in 1872.

    Daniel Spill and legal disputes[edit]
    English inventor Daniel Spill had worked with Parkes and formed the Xylonite Co. to take over Parkes' patents, describing the new plastic products as Xylonite. He took exception to the Hyatts' claims and pursued the brothers in a number of court cases between 1877 and 1884. Initially the judge found in Spill's favour, but ultimately it was judged that neither party held an exclusive claim and the true inventor of celluloid/xylonite was Alexander Parkes, due to his mention of camphor in his earlier experiments and patents.[6] The judge ruled all manufacturing of celluloid could continue both in Spill's British Xylonite Company and Hyatts' Celluloid Manufacturing Company.

    The name Celluloid actually began as a trademark of the Celluloid Manufacturing Company, first of Albany, NY, and later of Newark, New Jersey, which manufactured the celluloids patented by John Wesley Hyatt. Hyatt used heat and pressure to simplify the manufacture of these compounds. Over the years, celluloid has become the normal term used for this type of plastic. In 1878 Hyatt was able to patent a process for injection moulding thermoplastics, although it took another 50 years before it could be realised commercially, and in later years celluloid was used as the base for photographic film.[7]
    Last edited by cushioncrawler; 03-14-2014 at 07:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DiabloViejo View Post
    In the early 1900's Leo Baekeland developed the first fully synthetic artificial plastic as a substitute for ivory in billiard balls. Baekeland's discovery was a phenolic resin which he named "Bakelite". Bakelite was not explosive or flammable, it was easy to work with, and more importantly, its playing characteristics were very similar to ivory. Finally, after many years the billiard industry and the billiard playing public had a substitute that most felt was on a par with ivory. Bakelite became widely used world-wide as an ivory substitute and was advertised as "the material of a thousand uses". Elephants everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Today 80% of the world's pool balls are manufactured in Belgium by a company named Saluc, their products are sold under the Aramith and Crystalate (snooker) brands.
    Read the caption in this photograph:

    Not true.
    I hav lots of sets of billiard balls known az Crystalate and allso Bonzoline. Theze play very well. Few kicks. Bewdyfull.
    Theze replaced ivory. Bakelite didn't replace ivory.
    Mind u, if I had a choice, I would prefer ivory balls. This iz for English Billiards. Ivory probly wouldn't be very good for pool or snooker.
    mac.

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    CRYSTALATE PREDATES BAKELITE, AND SUPPOZEDLY WOZ MADE UNTILL 1972 (I DONT BELEEV THIS).
    MAC.


    ............This article is about the plastic. For the company, see Crystalate Manufacturing Company.

    Crystalate is an early plastic, a formulation of nitrocellulose, camphor, and alcohol invented in the late 19th century[1] and patented by American inventor George Henry Burt.[2] It is best known as a material for gramophone records produced in the UK by Crystalate Manufacturing Company (although Burt's own US-based Globe Record Company also manufactured Crystalate records),[2] and for moulded billiards, pool and snooker balls, as produced by the Endolithic Company (UK, later the Composition Billiard Ball Company).

    Crystalate was based on Bonzoline, a plastic produced by John Wesley Hyatt's US-based Albany Billiard Ball Company. Birt, a former Albany employee, began manufacturing what was essentially Bonzoline in the UK in 1900 as crystalate with Percy Warnford-Davis, under the Endolithic name.[3][4]:9 While Crystalate as a plastic material is obsolete and no longer manufactured, like Celluloid and Bakelite it is commonly encountered by collectors of vintage and antique goods, because many products were made using the substance. The plastic was even mandated in the UK for making billiard balls by the Billiards Association and Control Council in 1926.[1]

    Super Crystalate is a brand name for a composition material, a cast rather than moulded resin, first produced by Composition Billiard Ball in 1972 as a replacement for Crystalate.[4]:10 It continues to be used to manufacture cue sports balls, including by Saluc in their Aramith line......
    (NOT TRUE).
    Last edited by cushioncrawler; 03-14-2014 at 07:47 PM.

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    ............By 1893 Hyatt had overcome the problems with the composition billiard ball and his new formula was marketed under the name of "Bonzoline". The Bonzoline Manufacturing Co. Ltd was established in England to sell these balls. However, the reputation of his earlier attempt remained linked to the new ball and initially there was some resistance from the public. Although a source of major controversy at the time, in hindsight there was little doubt that the new ball was superior in all respects to ivory, having more accurate manufacturing tolerances and a consistent density which ensured true running. Although slightly heavier [c.5Żoz.] than ivory [c.5oz.] they threw at a wider angle. Whilst the composition ball became increasingly popular at an amateur level, it failed to displace ivories in England as long as they were used by professionals and endorsed by the Billiard Association. This attitude from the hierarchy of the game persisted well into the 20th century when it was eventually overtaken by the groundswell of amateurs who had never played with ivories due to their scarcity and expense. In the colonies however (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India) the composition ball was used almost exclusively since their earliest introduction to those countries....
    Last edited by cushioncrawler; 03-14-2014 at 07:46 PM.

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    If Bakelite balls were no better than the modern krappamith ball then Bakelite were shite, koz krappamith are shite today. But praps it all depends on the filler uzed.
    The best balls were melamine, made in 1973 I think. I had a hit with a set of theze.
    I don't know if I hav ever had a hit with a Bakelite ball (except that phenolic krappamiths are nearnuff Bakelite). But az I say, praps it all depends on the filler uzed.
    Me myself I started playing English Billiards in 1963, we uzed Crystalate and Bonzoline balls. I retired in 1967.
    I made a kumback in 1985, and everyone woz uzing SuperCrystalate balls, theze were made of Polyester, rubbish.
    In about 1990 we started uzing krappamith balls, rubbish. Still uzing them in 2014, rubbish.
    mac.
    Last edited by cushioncrawler; 03-14-2014 at 01:54 AM.

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    Baekeland didn't save many elephants.
    The guy who saved lots of elephants woz the yank who in about 1890 brort in a rule that outlawed hi-gloss balls. Ivory balls are hi-gloss balls. Thusly ivory balls were banned (in official comps etc anyhow).
    Obviously big-celluloid woz behind this moov. Love of elephants wouldn't hav had much to do with it.

    Funny thing. If that rule were still in place then krappamiths would be illegal (ie hi-gloss soft vitreous kicky krapp balls).

    U kan tell Crystalate and Bonzoline by the sound of impakt. Its a sharp loud CLICK.
    If its a soft shitty PHHUTTTT sound then thems there balls are krappamiths.

    Funny thing. Ivorys are very soft, softer than krapps, yet their sound iz sharper and louder than Crystalates and Bonzolines.
    The ringing of the ivory balls dies aways so quickly that u are left with a very sharp CLICK. Strange that.
    mac.
    Last edited by cushioncrawler; 03-14-2014 at 07:44 PM.

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