Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Blue Prystal and Blue Moon
Alas, blue Bakelite is not a myth. It's probably the rarest of all the Bakelite colors and the toughest to identify since it often manifests itself in arguable blue-greens and iffy teals. As far as I can tell, blue Bakelite comes in two varieties: 1. Prystal Bakelite and 2. Blue Catalin that (for some reason) didn't oxidize into another color over the years.
In the photo above I believe there are four Prystal buttons. See how the light leaves a fleck of blue within some of the shadows? That's an indication of Prystal Bakelite. Now notice that two of the buttons (at roughly 10:00 and 4:30) seem a bit more opaque with no trace of blue electricity in their shadows. I suspect that these are true blue Catalin buttons. Remember that "Catalin" is a brand of Bakelite. The Catalin company experimented with Bakelite's tones and color-blends and did indeed invent blue Bakelite. However, over the course of many decades, most Catalin-Bakelite that was originally blue has gradually turned green or black. Bakelite is a chameleon plastic in that it typically darkens over time and in many instances, changes color. Experts believe that excessive light may be what causes the color changes in Bakelite. Others suggest that it's the chemical nature of Bakelite to change. Whatever the case, these two blue, non-Prystal Bakelite buttons are still blue in 2016. Due to the extreme rarity of blue Catalin that's retained its original tone, this color of Bakelite is covetously referred to by collectors as blue moon.