Tinsel

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Tinsel

Postby Enzo » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:26 pm

Sorry, no headline pun today.

We like to talk about the old days, and particular the "things kids today don't know". CArbon paper, dial phones, video tape, 8-tracks, etc. SO I got to thinking of tinsel. As a kid we used to festoon the Xmas tree with tinsel. Today tinsel comes in colors and is made of thin plastic strips like mylar. Can be clear or metalized for reflectivity. Similar stuff is also sold for filler in Easter baskets. On a Xmas tree it is supposed to look like icicles.

When I was a kid though, tinsel was metal. It was thin lead foil sliced into strips. It came in a flat package, the strands wrapped around a card. You peeled off a few strands at a time and tossed them over the tree branches. We kids discovered that you could wad the stuff up into dense little balls of lead. I could even melt it with my soldering iron.

Gathering it up off the tree later was difficult, hard to save much for next year.

Of course today, bare metallic lead would not be an easy sell to the EPA or the American mom shopping. And certainly a lot more expensive to produce. Apparently the FDA got rid of lead tinsel in 1972.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby g-one » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:14 am

Wow. I don't think I ate any. I bet some did though.
Do they still use lead for stained glass work, or is it something else now?
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Enzo » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:39 am

Lead solder? No rule against it in the USA anyway.


Back in the 1950s, lead was just good old metal from the earth. I remember in grade school science class, they had little bottles of mercury to show us. You could open it up and twiddle your finger in it to feel how much more dense it was than water. You could pour some into your palm. And that was in the era of real silver coins, and a common trick was to coat a dime with mercury to make it real shiny.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Lance » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:42 am

Were there other kinds available back then too? I have absolutely no memory of lead tinsel.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Enzo » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:37 am

You may not have been aware it was lead. But lead was common, and the strips were definitely metal, not plastic. SOme was plain lead, some was cut from sheets of lead with tin coating. In those cases they were essentially the same stuff as solder - the stuff used in electronics or plumbing. Lead/tin combination. There was some aluminum, but that was actually flammable. I don't know when the plastic stuff started to take over.

https://www.ebay.com/bhp/lead-tinsel
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Heid the Ba » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:34 am

Ours was definitely metal but I don’t think it was lead, the edges were too sharp for that.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Lance » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:06 pm

Enzo wrote:You may not have been aware it was lead.
https://www.ebay.com/bhp/lead-tinsel

Apparently so. Those are certainly the packages I remember. I had no idea.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Enzo » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:47 pm

Lead with a tin content could take more of an edge. MAybe.


Just occurred to me while brushing this morning, toothpaste and other similar pastes used to come in metal tubes rather than the soft plastic of today. Many of those tubes were made of lead/tin. I still have some chemicals for my shop that come in metal tubes. I assume the substances involved might react with plastic tubes. The metal tubes will roll up, and stay, as you use up the product insie. Plastic ones can be rolled, but will spring back when you let go. They used to make toothpaste tube rollers. A little like a skate key, it was a pronged thing you slipped around the tube at the bottom, then the tabs on it could be rotated to roll up the tube. Squeezing every last CC of goo from the tube. It appears they still make them. Like this:

https://usa.loccitane.com/magic-key,82, ... gJtWvD_BwE

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Metal-Tube-Wri ... 2704919165
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Lianachan » Mon Aug 27, 2018 10:11 am

I have no memory of anything other than plastic tinsel, but I suppose I'm a relative young'un and a transpondean to boot.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Мастер » Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:34 pm

I can't really say for sure what I remember it being made of.

Isn't a bit early to be decorating your tree though?
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Enzo » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:15 pm

My memory tree can pop up any time.
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Re: Tinsel

Postby Arneb » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:37 pm

Over here, we still use mostly tin foil (as in the tin and lead compound, called "Stanniol") in Germany. The missus doesn't like it, and it is a lot of work to do the decoration with it, if you do it properly: Thread by thread. So I haven't done it in a long time. One of the Things To Do When/If I Retire.

I read on Wikipedia that it was originally invented in Nuremberg, and made from thinly cut silver foil. Very upmarket.
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