Not long ago I received a bag of very old buttons, and I was sure at least some of them were Bakelite; the first completely synthetic plastic ever created. I read that a simple way to check was to run hot water over the button. If it smells like formaldehyde or a sweet, chemical odor, they are Bakelite.
It turns out, I could have just as easily let Thumper sniff them all out for me. Being deaf, his strongest sense is his smell, and he’s proven himself a total glue fiend. Bakelite also seems to get his seal of approval, because he kept going after the ones I’d separated into my Bakelite stash.
Wish I could take this boy antiquing!