Following on from Pam’s blog where she talked about plastics research and MoDiP’s 2013 crowd sourcing data project, I am looking for help to find out more about a particular object that I have donated to the museum (see image below).
|Image ref: My reel of invisible thread.|
Image credit: Katherine Pell
Whilst we have been working from home, one of our tasks has been to prepare for future MoDiP exhibitions and so, back in the Spring of 2020, I began research for Friend and faux. One of my cases looks at secretions and how plastics have enabled us to find alternatives to animal substances such as cellulose acetate replacing natural silk in stockings. Thinking about silk thread, I suddenly remembered that I had a reel of plastics invisible thread in my sewing basket, something I had inherited several years ago but had so far never found a use for.
close examination it appeared to be a nylon monofilament and my first online
search to find out more about it turned up a reference in a June 1966 edition
of the Aeromodeller magazine. In an article entitled ‘Scale
commentary’, the author refers to Kleintex invisible thread as being available in
either brown-tinted (my example) or clear, and being useful as rigging to tie
up strut ends (McHard, 1966).
Image ref: The first reference to my invisible thread
Image credit: https://rcbookcase.com/data/thumbnails/6/06AeroModeller_June_1966.jpg
My next find was from The Guardian newspaper dated Friday, 26th February 1965. It reported that a contract had been signed by the Nottingham firm of Kleintex to supply 500,000 reels of transparent sewing thread to Australia. It also mentioned a similar contract being arranged two months prior going to Africa and a further edition of the paper included an advert (dated Monday 27th September 1965) with part of the company address visible: _ _ _ er Gate, Nottingham.
Using this geographical detail, I then found a book that referred to a meeting between the author (a journalist in Nottingham at that time) and the owner of the business:
“… a businessman named Alan Klein rang me to say he had invented an invisible thread would I like to see it! I did a double take and asked how I would be able to see it. I was sure I was having my leg pulled, but it was true. I went to his factory and he showed me his transparent nylon thread which he called Kleintex invisible thread. I wrote the story because it fascinated me and the thread went on to revolutionise clothing manufacture and make Alan Klein a millionaire.” (Scott, 2013).
I contacted the author (who now lives in Australia) to see if he could recall where the factory had been but unfortunately, he could not remember the exact address and I was unable to source his original article as the newspaper has not been digitised (remember this research was being done from home during the Covid-19 lockdown!). MoDiP’s good friend Colin Williamson, a polymer specialist, also very kindly had a look through his collection of plastics directories and catalogues for me but was unable to identify anything listing the tradename, the company or the owner.
only other reference I was able to find online at that time was the winding up of the company (no pun intended) on the
15th September 1967, notified via The London Gazette newspaper. Sadly, the
trail ended there and as lockdown ended and we returned to work, other jobs to
be attended to in the museum took priority.
Image ref: The company ceases to do business.
But then the second national lockdown happened. Finding
myself working from home again, I revisited my earlier research and almost
immediately found this available for sale on a popular online auction site,
which I have been able to acquire for the museum:
Image ref: The natural colour invisible thread.
Now we have the full address of the company and some wonderful contextual information to support the objects, as well as an example in the collection of both colours that had been originally manufactured. I have still been unable to identify a related patent or find out anything more about the company, the owner or the thread but I will be asking Pam to keep an eye out when she next delves into the MoDiP Reference Library.
If anyone reading this blog has any information to add to the story, please do get in touch.
McHard, J.D. 1966. Scale commentary. Aeromodeller, (online) (Vol. 31, No. 365), p.338. Available at: https://rcbookcase.com/data/media/6/06AeroModeller_June_1966.pdf (Accessed June 2020).
Scott, E. 2013. I could have been a contender:
the memoirs of a black sheep, (online) Bedfordshire: Andrews UK
Limited. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6Ha6BAAAQBAJ&pg=PT171&lpg=PT171&dq=kleintex+invisible+thread&source=bl&ots=MYWbZh0mIG&sig=ACfU3U0WYZYH--OgEYOMij3d09Hr_1regg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi8v9z8kuPpAhXVURUIHWD7BzkQ6AEwAXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=kleintex%20invisible%20thread&f=false (Accessed June 2020).