Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Mouldings of Merit

I know that I have written about my own fascination with trawling though old industry publications in previous blogs but, once again, the effort of doing so has been very rewarding.  Actually, if I am being honest, on this occasion it was a colleague who was doing the trawling, but knowing that I had a bit of a conundrum in the form of two conjoined boxes sitting on my desk that none of us had managed to identify, this particular page leapt out at her. So thank you Louise.

I know it might seem a bit geeky, but you cannot imagine the pleasure of finding out what an object was meant to be used for!  As a team we had puzzled over it for some time. I am sure there will be many people out there for whom these are familiar objects, but we could not even decide which way up they were meant to be, let alone work out what they were for.    

So here they are…


The two conjoined boxes.
Image credit: Pam Langdown

…any ideas yet?


And upside down.
Image credit: Pam Langdown


These are presented the right way up and ready for use….



The right way up.
Image credit: Pam Langdown



And this is the advertisement found in an issue of British Plastics, July 1950.


British Plastics, July 1950.
Image credit: Pam Langdown

They are bench assembly trays, made from compression moulded phenol formaldehyde, by Insulators Limited.

It seems that they were available in two types, straight or curved, to enable the most efficient configuration to satisfy Time and Motion study experts, but they undoubtedly made assembly jobs easier. I have since found the same advertisement in earlier editions of British Plastics, so we know that they were in use for many years.

Regularly encountered today perhaps are the small parts or component picking trays made from injection moulded polypropylene. In fact, we put them to good use in our stores. Polypropylene is rigid, robust and inert and make good storage containers for our more vulnerable items that need to be kept open to the air to avoid a build up of any gasses given off. 


Image of the Museum Stores
Image credit: Katherine Pell


MoDiP’s collection of this precious resource of old industry publications will no doubt keep me occupied for some time to come. I wonder what the next find will be?

Pam Langdown
Museum Documentation Officer


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