Items made of rubber, 1850-1960.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A selection of objects made out of early samples of natural and semi-synthetic rubber. Those from natural rubber include a Peruvian toy, a moulded pink mat with a raised picture of the Crystal Palace to commemorate the Festival of Britain, 1951, and Henry Wickham's (1846-1928) hot water bottle, 1924. Wickham brought a batch of 70,000 rubber seeds to Britain from the Amazon in 1876. The seeds were then used to establish rubber plantations in Malaya. The pens and match boxes are made from ebonite, a hard black semi-synthetic material made from heating rubber with sulphur. Also known as vulcanite, ebonite is probably best known today for being used to make bowling balls.