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Tin of Shellac


Creator: UoD_Museums on 18 Sep 2011, 4:15 p.m.

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. The insects suck the sap of the tree and excrete ‘stick-lac’, which forms a tunnel-like tube as it moves across the branches. This secretion is scraped from the bark of trees and processed to sell as dry flakes, like the ones in this tin. These can be dissolved in ethyl alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a colouring material, food glaze and wood varnish. Before the days of vinyl, phonograph records were also made of shellac. This tin was presumably kept in the Physical Department at University College, Dundee because it was also a useful insulator for electrical devices, sealing out moisture.