Hair comb, cellulose nitrate, made by Auguste Bonaz, made in France, 1950
The museum's plastics collection began in the 1930s with the acquisition of specimens of plastic raw materials and finished products. The collection was driven largely by Arthur de Ramon Penfold (1890-1980), a former industrial chemist, who worked as curator and later director of the museum from 1927 until 1955.
Throughout the early 1900s the Sydney Technical College and the Sydney Technological Museum held similar aims and objectives regarding the promotion, use and development of local manufacture, materials, commerce and industry. Between 26 and 28 September 1934, the Technical College's Chemical Society and the museum collaborated to develop what was advocated as the first Plastics Industry Exhibition in Australia.
A permanent display of plastics was established at the museum, and was described by the Sunday Telegraph as 'the best display of plastics and fibres in the world ... show(ing) the complete history of plastics from first experiments to the latest developments' (Sunday Telegraph, 1945).
This comb was made by the French designer, Auguste Bonaz, who was famous for making Art Deco combs and jewellery. It highlights the decorative applications of plastics and its use as a replacement for materials such as tortoiseshell.
This comb is part of a large collection of plastics and plastic moulding powders acquired by the museum during Arthur Penfold's career. The collection gives insight into a period of great social, material, technological and scientific development, along with some of the aims and collecting practices of the museum at the time. Plastics continues to be an area that is developed and represented in the museum's collection, however today the collection explores some of the more ambivalent attitudes towards plastics and their use, including issues such as sustainability and the impact of plastics production on the environment.
Sunday Telegraph, 'For plastics he saw great things', 11 November 1945
This comb was made by Auguste Bonaz in Oyonnax, Ain, France in 1950. It was made using cellulose nitrate.
This comb was made by Auguste Bonaz. He was a well known French designer who made combs, jewellery and a range of other decorative items in the Art Deco style. His father set up Maison Bonaz in Oyonnax, France in the middle of the nineteenth century. Auguste, continued the family business and set up a shop in Paris. This comb was made in Oyonnax an area famous for producing combs. It became a major centre for the production of plastics after World War Two.