RUBBER, an elastic, resilient substance de rived from numerous trees and vines found scattered widely over the tropics. Its proper name is Caoutchouc and it is classified in the hydro-carbon family; the chemically pure product being described by the symbols H". Commercially pure rubber, however, contains several other things such as moisture, albumin, resin, sugar, mineral matter and oil. The dis covery of rubber is attributed to Columbus who as the story goes, found the natives of Hayti playing a, game of ball .with a resilient, bounc ing material. Later voyagers from France on a mission involving certain geographic surveys made a closer analysis of this substance ing in their reports a rather detailed descrip tion. One main fact brought to light by theft men was that Caoutchouc was derived from a lacteal fluid and not from the sap of the trees as is, even now, commonly supposed.. See INDIA RUBBER; INDIA RUDDER TRIM Caoutchonc is the term used to describe this substance in all but the English-speaking coun tries. The term is the result of a •im. covery by Priestly, an Englishman, who in 1770, by experiment, found that small pieces of this coagulated latex were useful as pencil mark erasers. He immediately called them "rubbersx and for the want of a more descrip tive ono, this name rubber remained; until now it' is necepted by all English-speaking people as descriptive of the crude material, which forms the basis of so many manufactured articles now classified as rubber goods.
Although Latin countries first interested themselves in rubber, particularly France, Portugal andi.Spain, and many items of native manufacture were exported from Brazil and other South American colonies to these coun tries; these, however, were looked upon simply as interesting curiosities and it fell to the English to really begin manufacture of rubber goods on a scientific basis, following extensive research work. The first patent covering rub ber for practical use was issued in 1771 to Samuel Peal of London. His invention pro vided for the waterproofing of cloth by spread ing it with a thin layer of melted rubber. This process was, however, attended by so many difficulties that Peal did not make progress and although the experiment doubtless served as a stimulant for further research and develop ment in itself resulted in nothing.
Next came Nadier, also an Englishman, who in 1820 patented the idea of manufacturing elastic thread by cutting thin strips from long slabs of rubber. These he intended should be
woven into cloth. But his invention, likewise, proved impractical as it was then found im possible to design weaving machinery which would accommodate elastic thread. Three years after the failure of the elastic thread project of Nadier, Charles McIntosh of Glas gow, Scotland obtained a patent for water proofing fabrics. His process was accom plished by spreading a solution of coal-tar naphtha and •rubber on a marble slab, allowing the solvent to evaporate. This resulted in a thin sheet of pure rubber which later was placed between two fabrics and fastened by means of needle and thread. In 1825 McIntosh established a factory for the manufacture of garments by this method. McIntosh's venture is regarded by many as the beginning of our modern rubber industry. The name still sticks — all garments of the double fabric texture variety, with rubber between, are still known universally as McIntosh's.
Three years prior to McIntosh's discovery, Thomas Hancock had also interested himself in the possibility of commercially 'developing rub ber. Having spent his early days in mechanical pursuits, Hancock attacked the problem from an entirely different angle: That is, he worked out methods of preparing rubber through the application .of machinery and by this means founded what. is real beginning of rubber manufacturing. His first patent. granted in 1820, provided for improvements in the application of articles of dress such as wristbands, waist and coat bands, garters, etc., by the introduction of rubber,• that these might be rendered elastic and better fitting. To accomplish his purpose he worked out and designed the first rubber milling machinery. The compotniding of rub ber with other ingredients was also success fully inaugurated by Hancock. In fact, as early as 1825 he was mixing with rubber, coal-tan Fuller's earth and coloring pigments for the purpose of strengthening, beautifying and mak ing his produits less sticky. He had con• siderable success in the manufacture of a varied fine of rubber goods which, even now, would be considered fairly complete. His output in cluded hose, belting, packing, shoes, inflated goods and also molded articles such as bumpers. Thus, it can be said that the manufacture of rubber goods really had its inception in Eng land.