Pen tray made of gutta-percha

Made:
1850-1900 in London
maker:
Gutta Percha Company

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Pen tray of gutta-percha, made by the Gutta Percha Company, England, 1850-1900.

Gutta-percha was introduced to Britain by a surgeon, Dr Montgomerie, who presented it to the Royal Society of Arts in 1843 after returning from Malaya (now Singapore), where he had seen it being used to make knife handles and other items. Gutta-percha could be softened in hot water, then moulded into shape before being left to cool and harden. Gutta-percha was also discovered to have electrical insulating properties against water, which meant it was used to insulate the cables for trans-ocean telegraphy, including the transatlantic cables, until the discovery of polythene in the 1930s.

Details

Category:
Plastics and Modern Materials
Object Number:
1984-1097
type:
gutta percha and plastics plastics writing (accessory), gutta percha and plastics
credit:
Donated by H F Wilson