An original box of 'Ocobo' gutta percha golf balls, early 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Gutta percha is a rubber-like material from the dried sap of sapodilla trees of south-east Asia. It has the same chemical composition as natural rubber, but a different molecular structure (it is an isomer of rubber). Because of this, unlike rubber, gutta percha is hard at room temperature. This material was first exploited in Britain by Charles Hancock and Henry Bewley who set up the Gutta Percha Company in 1845. Today gutta percha has been replaced by synthetic materials in the manufacture of golf balls. Manufactured by James B Halley of 15 Finsbury Circus, London.