Parkesine 2016-12-06T05:35:20+00:00


Green moulded plaque Buckle Small decorative moulding Sheet specimens
Billiard Ball Pin Brooch Prayer Book Cover Razor handle

A showcase of colourful plastics was displayed at the 1862 London International Exhibition. Although Vulcanite had been shown by both Hancock and Goodyear at the 1851 Great Exhibition, this was the first time that a colourful material that did not rely on a surface finish or dye had been put on public display. The exhibitor and patentee, Alexander Parkes showed great optimism for his new material and, more significantly, anticipated many of the uses for which plastics have been employed in the subsequent 140 years. The pictures show perhaps some of those original exhibits and justify Parkes’ optimism and the award of a bronze medal "for excellence of product".

In 1866, the Parkesine Company was established at Hackney Wick, now in East London. The factory was opened with high hopes but within two years it was in liquidation. Most of the problems may be attributed to a desire to keep the price below a shilling a pound, accordingly the product quality was not up to the standard of those displayed at the 1862 exhibition.

Daniel Spill who was works manager at the Parkesine Company took over most of the stock and formed the Xylonite Co. in 1869 to carry on the business but that did not fare much better and was wound up in 1874.