Plastic items from 1897

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Plastic items from 1897

Plastic items from 1897

Plastic is now so common that it has become a source of concern because of the difficulty in disposing of items made of it. However in 1897 it was a new substance and very few people had seen a plastic item.

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was a chance for entrepreneurs to try out new materials to see if they were marketable and the photo shows three souvenirs that were made for this major event. There are two small cases that were either purses or cigarette cases and a bust made of yellow plastic. The bust has a wooden base and then a plastic band showing that it was a souvenir of the festivities in Ditton Park.

This was the first major occasion for which plastic souvenirs were made and these novelties demonstrated that the new material did have a commercial future. The plastic items did sell in 1897 but it would be at least 50 more years before plastic became the ubiquitous material that we know of today.

So this photograph reminds us of the birth of the plastic revolution and the Diamond Jubilee of 1897.

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