This list of texts relating to plastics is not comprehensive. It is set out in publication date order. Some can be found in the MoDiP reference library.
E G Couzens & V E Yarsley, Plastics
Pelican, 1941; updated edition 1968; no ISBN
Clear and concise on plastics and their use to date but of special interest as a pioneering attempt to bring to a wide public through paperback a little known and difficult technological subject.
John Gloag, Plastics and industrial design
George Allen Unwin, 1945; no ISBN
Historically interesting, giving an insight into the 'state of plastics' at the beginning of the post-war period. Gloag sets out some ground rules for the newly emerging role of industrial designer. Includes useful section on plastics, their properties and uses, and on manufacturing processes by Grace Lovat Faser. 50 photos and 10 distinctive line drawings.
V E Yarsley ed., Plastics Applied
National Trade Press, 1945; no ISBN
A comprehensive survey of the British plastics industry in 1945. Separate sections on plastics in domestic appliances, electric lighting, medicine and surgery, etc. etc.
British Plastics Federation, The world of plastics
1962; no ISBN
96 pages on raw materials to plastic products and their impact on the environment, presented as a primer. Excellent introduction to the facts and issues.
M Kaufman, The first century of plastics
The Plastics Institute,1963; no ISBN
Comprehensive coverage of the history of early synthetic and semi-synthetic plastics, particularly Parkesine and Xylonite. One of the most authoritative books on the subject.
John Briston, The Pegasus book of plastics
Dennis Dobson, 1969; SBN 234 77186 0
Accessible introduction to what plastics are and their impact on the world we live in up to the 1960s.
Dietrich Braun, Simple methods for the identification of plastics
Carl Hanser Verlag,1982; ISBN 0029492602
Just what it says it is and includes a plastics identification table.
Andrea DiNoto, Art Plastic
Abbeville, 1984; ISBN 0 89659 437 8
Coffee table style with over 300 superb illustrations accompanied by sparse but interesting text. International selection of artefacts.
Sylvia Katz, Plastics: design and materials
Studio Vista, 1978; ISBN 0 289 70783 8
Fulfils its title brilliantly bringing out the impact of the capabilities of different plastics on the evolution of form in design. A must for any museum with a design remit whether concerned with plastics or other materials.
Sylvia Katz, Classic plastics from Bakelite to high-tech
Thames & Hudson, 1984; ISBN 0 500 27390 1
Authoritative history with good pictures of products made of plastic. Conservation advice aimed at private collectors rather than museums.
Sylvia Katz, Early plastics
Shire album 168, 1986; ISBN0 85263790 X
32 pages of essential information. Images black and white but nonetheless helpful. Care and repair section more suitable for private collectors than a museum.
A Brydson, Plastics Materials
Butterworths, 1989; ISBN 0 408 00721 4
Over 800 pages of plastics. Perhaps a little technical for the layman in places but still an essential reference book.
Penny Sparke ed., The plastics age, from Bakelite to beanbags and beyond
The Overlook Press,1993; ISBN 0 87951 471 X
First published as the book of an exhibition held at the V&A in 1990 but hard to find in that version. Includes key texts by a wide range of thinkers and plastics experts including Reyner Banham, Jean Baudrillard, Roland Bathes, John Gloag, Sylvia Katz, Enzio Manzini and Susan Mossman. Maps the intellectual territory.
Jeffrey L Meikle, American plastic, a cultural history
Rutgers University Press1995; ISBN 08135 2234 X
Extensive (403 pages) text written by an art historian on the contexts of and attitudes aroused by American plastics. Thought-provoking.
Stephen Fenichell, Plastic: the making of a synthetic century
Harper Collins, 1996; ISBN 0 88730 732 9
Irreverent look at the social and economic revolutions brought about by plastic and how it has moulded and been moulded by scientists, artists, politicians and shoppers.
Susan Mossman ed., Early plastics
Leicester University Press, 1997; ISBN 0 7185 00202
Chapters by Morris Kaufman, Susan Mossman, Roger Newport and Mark Suggitt approaching the subject from a variety of perspectives. Very readable and full of useful historical information. Large section devoted to a catalogue of the Science Museum plastics collection. 20 colour plates and numerous black & white illustrations.
Pete Ward, Fantastic plastic, the kitsch collector's guide
Quintet Publishing, 1997; ISBN1 85076 794 7
Good for images of, in its own words, the 'wacky, crazy, eccentric, gaudy, tasteless' from the 1950s onwards.
Mel Byars, 100 designs/100 years, innovative designs of the 20th century
RotoVision SA, 1999; ISBN2 88046 442 0
Not a history of plastics but half the designs happen to be made of plastics or have plastic components.
Anita Quye and Colin Williamson ed., Plastics collecting and conserving
NMS Publishing Limited, Edinburgh, 1999; ISBN1 901663 12 4
Key to the creation of this information resource. Encompasses its subject comprehensively but succinctly with contributions from the key figures working in the field in the UK. A must have.
Holly Wahlberg, 1950s Plastics Design
Schiffer Publishing, 1999; ISBN0 7643 0783 5
Good for images of plastics in context but limited to plastics in the USA.
N Odegaard, S Carroll and W S Zimmt, Material characterization test for objects of art & archaeology
Archetype Publications, 2000; ISBN 1-873132-12-3
Places plastics in the context of other materials. Provides detailed information on tests available. Perhaps for the more scientifically inclined.
Chris Lefteri, Plastic materials for inspirational design
Rotovision SA, 2001
Chris Lefteri, Plastics 2 materials for inspirational design
Rotavision SA 2006; ISBN 2 940361 0 1
Aimed at budding designers rather than those with plastics in their collection but features a range of fascinating products that have defined and pushed out the boundaries of plastics manufacture plus basic information on a wide range of plastics and processes.
Thomas Wessel ed., Plastic art - a precarious success story
AXA Art Versicherung AG, 2007; no ISBN
Useful short introduction to the issues relating to and care of the plastics used in art and the high-end of design from about 1950 onwards.
Yvonne Shashoua, Conservation of plastics, materials science degradation and preservation
Elsevier, 2007; ISBN 978950664950
Source for all that is required to keep plastic objects in prime condition and includes a history of plastics. Excellent for curators as well as conservators.