gutta percha snuff box, 1820-1860

Made:
1820-1860 in France and England
Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha, Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha, Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha, Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha,

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Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha, tortoiseshell lined, engine turned lid.

Snuff box, English or French, 1820-1860. Circular, flattish, detachable lid, concave edge to box, gutta-percha, tortoiseshell lined, engine turned lid.

Gutta percha was introduced in Britain in 1843. It was not originally used as a cable insulator, but was popular due to its chemical properties, which made it easy to shape and mould. It was used to make everything from industrial components like machinery belts and tubes, to chessmen and other small items, like this snuff box. The process for making tubes was soon adapted to make cable coverings, due to its insulating properties, which improved under the pressure and temperatures found on the sea bed. By 1861, over one thousand tons of gutta percha was being imported by Britain each year. Gutta percha was used for cable insulation until the late 1930s, when it began to be replaced by polyethylene.

Details

Category:
Smoking
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A231964
Materials:
brass, gutta-percha and lining, tortoiseshell
type:
snuff box
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • snuff container
credit:
On loan from Wellcome Trust