Roll Over Image to Zoom ‹ Back to Collection

Vintage French Ivory Celluloid Hand Fan

  • 1 in. W x 6 in. L x .75 in. D
    Celluloid, ribbon
  • On display in Making Modernity
  • Purchased for Collection
  • 2006.096


Celluloid is the name given to a group of compounds that are composed of nitrocellulose and camphor. Regarded as the first thermoplastic, Celluloid was originally developed by Alexander Parkes in 1855, but it was not until the late 1860s, when John and Isaiah Hyatt began investigating the material as a replacement for ivory billiard balls, that Celluloid became a commercial success. Celluloid was strong and easily moldable, which made it an easy replacement for such materials as ivory and wood. Celluloid was used in everything from billiard balls and other toys to cuffs and collars for shirts.

Search Our Online Collections


Distillations Podcast logo
Listen to the latest episodes of CHF’s award-winning podcast.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.