Over the course of three decades, the English businessman and
inventor Thomas Hancock (1786 1865) took out sixteen patents
relating to the potential applications of natural rubber. Hancock's
fascination with this material, the properties of which had not
been fully appreciated in England, drove him to experiment
extensively with manufacturing methods. This led to the development
of the mechanical process of 'mastication' and the chemical process
of vulcanization, the end product of which was used by Macintosh to
create waterproof garments. This illustrated account of Hancock's
discoveries and methods was first published in 1857. It covers the
origin of his interest in natural rubber and his subsequent
experiments and patents. Also included are details about the plants
from which natural rubber is extracted. The result is an informed
chronicle of the commercial exploitation of a versatile and
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