Gutta percha medallion of Sir Robert Peel.

about 1845-1867
Gutta Percha Company

A small, brown, circular medallion made of gutta percha, a rubber product. One side is embossed with a crest and lions, and the words ‘GUTTA PERCHA COMPANY, LONDON’. The other is embossed with a portrait of Sir Robert Peel, a former British Prime Minister known as the father of British policing.

Gutta percha is a rigid plastic product derived from tree sap, known for being hard-wearing, inert and an electrical insulator. It was historically used as an insulator for electrical cables and later came to be used in dentistry.

This medallion in gutta percha was made by the Gutta Percha Company, which was set up in 1845 by Henry Bewley and Samuel Gurney. The Gutta Percha Company, based in Stratford, London, was a competitor to the West Ham Gutta Percha Company, set up in 1850 by Charles and Walter Hancock.

This object is part of a collection relating to the Hancock family, acquired in 2018 from a descendant and family historian of the Hancocks. The collection comprises portraits covering 4 generations of the Hancock family, personal and business archives, and a series of related objects. Thomas Hancock is the centre of the story – inventor of the patent masticator and founder of the British rubber industry. The Hancock company ran until the 1930s, led by Thomas’s nephew and assistant, James Lyne Hancock, and then a great nephew John Hancock Nunn.


Plastics and Modern Materials
Object Number:
gutta percha

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