Bakelite coffin, England, 1938

1938 in Stalybridge and England
Ultralite Casket Company Limited

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Coffin made from woodflour filled phenol formaldehyde resin, made in 1938, believed to be largest phenolic moulding,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Coffin without lid, made from woodflour filled phenol formaldehyde resin, designed by James Doleman and made by the Ultralite Casket Co Ltd, Stalybridge, England in 1938. Believed to be largest phenolic moulding, made in UK.

This unusual coffin is believed to be the largest phenolic moulding made in the UK. It was designed by James Doleman and made by Ultralite Casket Co Limited. The coffin was manufactured from imitation walnut phenolic resin with a wood flour filler devised by the Bakelite Company Ltd of London. The coffin did not go into large scale production, partly because of the inventor’s death in 1944 during the Second World War. This example was recovered from the Tyseley factory of Bakelite UK, near Birmingham, in 1985.

The first synthetic thermosetting plastic was phenol formaldehyde. It was patented in 1909 by Belgian-born chemist Leo Baekeland (1863-1944) who had emigrated to the US in 1889. The substance forms a useful mouldable plastic when combined with a wood flour filler. It is known by its trade name ’Bakelite’, after its inventor.


Plastics and Modern Materials
Object Number:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • ceremonial container

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

View manifest in IIIF viewer

Add to Animal Crossing Art Generator

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.