Monday, December 8, 2008

Bakelite and Lucite in New York City

Since it's the height of the biggest shopping season of the year, I find myself recalling some of my favorite shopping trips during my three-week stay in New York City this past summer.
The book I used as my primary shopping guide is The Curious Shopper’s Guide to New York City Inside Manhattan's Shopping Districts, written by Pamela Keech. This tiny book is extremely well-organized and all the recommendations I followed were spot on.

It is organized by neighborhood, which in New York City means it is loosely organized by shopping category. She reveals Manhattan’s secrets behind finding the best antiques, fabrics, kitchenware, lingerie, jewelry, lighting, and flowers to name a few.
In addition to her excellent shopping suggestions, I appreciate the very practical information she provides like cross-streets for every address plus subway stops and delicious restaurant suggestions for every neighborhood she covers. Even in some of the more unsavory districts, I could count on Keech to recommend a place to grab a quick, yummy, and affordable lunch. The book fits comfortably in the palm of my hand so it was a snap to carry around in my Mary Poppins bag. I had four days before my son would join me and my shopping binge would come to a screeching halt. This book was the perfect guide to keep me focused.

On the day I went to the Chelsea district, Keech led me to a couple of vintage shops that specialized in vintage plastics like Bakelite, Lucite and celluloid.

Bakelite is an early form of plastic developed by Dr. Leo Baekeland in 1909 and Lucite is a resin created by DuPont in 1937. Celluloid is also one of the first plastics originally developed in England in the 1850’s. What I love about all of them is that they come in fantastic rich colors and they are often used in art deco pieces. Learn more about the care and feeding of these plastics here.

The first shop I visited was This ‘n’ That Collectibles:

You can’t miss the store because it has a bubblegum pink awning. Please don’t judge a store by its awning because the proprietor, Anita Stern, has impeccable taste for vintage accessories. I mean, look at these:

and these:

I think she raided Betty Boop’s jewelry stash here:

The second shop had the most amazing collection of bakelite handbags I have ever seen in my life!

These are the two I was seriously considering to take home with me. I like this one because I think it would be very versatile:

and I love the shape and amber colors of this one:

My problem is that I already own a kazillion handbags and I can't store another thing. I'd have to decide which of my handbags would get the heave-ho before I can move in a new one. I kept the shop's card in case I caved later in my trip. Alas, the rest of our stay was so frenzied, I did not have a chance to return.

Double, triple, quadruple alas! I just went to my New York folder and the card is not there! Believe me; no one is more upset about this than me. I tried googling to see if I could find the store - no success. It would help if Iremembered the shop's name, but I don't. I promise to update this post as soon as I find it. I will look in other likely places around my house. Maybe it ended up in the early Pleistocene strata of my paperwork. If anyone out there in the blogosphere recognizes this store, please leave word!


beth said...

YUM....I love bakelite anything...especially vintage !!!!

{and by the way, I'm not quite to the second half of my life was a friends 50th birthday party....I still have 6 more years before I get to that point...and I'll enjoy every minute of the journey}.....I was like YIKES....she thinks I'm already 50....NO WAY BABY....not yet !!!!!

thanks for visiting my blog !!!!

Dutchbaby said...

Hello Young Beth,

Well will you look at that; we already found something in common.

Sorry for the misunderstanding on the second half of life - I was referring to your host :-)

Emily said...

I would love to go to New York. I think I'd have to go with someone who's lived there. I'd be too afraid to tackle it on my own. Plus, I'd waste too much time trying to find one store. Looks like it was an amazing trip!

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

Thanks for the excellent recommendation - this book will come in extremely handy on my next trip to NY...
I love anything and everything (or just about) vintage so I'll have a blast..!
Hope you have a great week..:)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Jemm,

New York is one of the my favorite cities in the world. I love the freedom of roaming the City on my own, but it's also a great city to share with those you love. It is a surprisingly easy city to navigate. The subway system is impressive and of course, you can always punt and take a cab.

Dear Here, There, Else,

This book, and New York, will not disappoint you if you love vintage! Stay tuned for more vintage posts...

Unknown said...

Did you ever find the name of this store? I'm in NYC tomorrow and desperately trying to find a vintage bakelite bag store..

Unknown said...

Did you ever find the name of this store? I'm in NYC tomorrow and am desperately trying to find a vintage bakelite bag store.

Dutchbaby said...

Fel Torres,

Sadly, I think the store might have folded and gone strictly on-line. Good luck in your pursuit!

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