ANSWER: Ever since Ancient Egypt, people, especially women, have been obsessed with their looks. As time went on, the utensils for maintaining a person’s looks evolved into a group with common elements—a brush, comb, mirror, hair receiver, powder puff holder, manicure set, and later on a pin box, atomizer, and button hook. And the material needed to make them evolved from that needed to make billiard balls and dentures.
Dresser sets were the original make-up organizers. Manufactured from Victorian times through the 1950s, these sets changed in form but not in function. Women prominently displayed them on their vanities and men on their chests.
Celluloid was first manufactured in 1870 and continued until 1947. After the Civil War there was a need for a substance with moldable properties that could replace dwindling supplies of natural materials, such as ivory. During the latter part of the 1860s, brothers John and Isaiah Hyatt worked on developing a thermoplastic material that not only simulated expensive luxury substances but also became widely used hi other applications In fact, Celluloid became so successful it ultimately gave birth to a thriving American industry. That industry lives on in the collecting of a great variety of Celluloid items that 'range from colorful advertising premiums, embossed albums and decorative storage boxes, to figural toys, ornate jewelry and fancy household and personal accessories.
It was around this time when Hyatt discovered that collodion, a liquid solution of pyroxylin (cellulose nitrate and alcohol) that printers brushed on their hands to protect them from ink and paper cuts, formed into a hard, but pliable, clear substance when dried, Hyatt patented the use of liquid collodion as a coating for composition core billiard balls.
Ultimately the scarcity of high priced rubber and the abundance of inexpensive Celluloid forced dentists into using the new material. Celluloid eventually became the most popular material for dentures until the introduction of cellulose acetate in 1929 in Newark, New Jersey. It was there that the mass production of the nation's first commercially successful plastic began.
The years that followed found John Hyatt diligently at work building molding machinery and finding successful applications for Celluloid. Harness rings, utensil, handles, knobs and dressing combs were among the earliest of molded articles, introduced for the first time to consumers around 1873.
The more items included in a dresser set, the more rare and valuable it s to collectors. Most often, however, the sets will have a brush, a comb, and a hand mirror.
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