FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

It's earlier than you think
© Frank Ford, 10/8/98 Photos by FF

Celluloid (cellulose acetate or cellulose nitrate) is the oldest of the plastic materials. It was developed around 1870 as an outgrowth of research on nitrocellulose explosives.

By 1890, celluloid was part of the American stringed instrument industry. The earliest Gibson instruments (1902) and lots of others had white celluloid binding:

Later on, celluloid was formulated and processed to look like natural materials such as tortoise, ivory, pearl, lapis, jade, etc.

The imitation "natural" celluloid is often called "ivoroid" or "pearloid." Ivoroid, in particular, has been known by many trademark names, including "Ivorine" and "French Ivory."

This mandolin pickguard is imitation tortoise:

If you want to sound casual and a bit silly, call it "turtleoid."

Here I am writing a note with a 1920s Parker pen made of celluloid:

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