Cellulose Nitrate (CN) (Celluloid)

The oldest synthetic plastic, Cellulose Nitrate was first prepared in 1833 by the French chemist Henri Bracconet, who mixed cellulose in the form of sawdust and linen with nitric acid. In 1855 Christian Schonbein repeated the experiment with ordinary paper made from wood cellulose treated with nitric acid. He named the resulting highly-flammable, transparent material cellulose nitrate and patented it as an explosive. John Wesley Hyatt and his brother patented the use of the material as a solid mass in 1869, forming the basis of the plastics molding industry. Often referred to as Celluloid, the plastic was used for items as diverse as billiard balls and hair combs. These products are tough, but flammable, and subject to discoloration in sunlight.
See also Cellulosics.
Whittington’s Dictionary of Plastics, 2nd ed., 53.