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Previous | Next Home > Timeline > 1519 - 1818
H Cortez 1519 Mexico
Sees a version of the ball game being played at Montezuma.
Bartolome de la Casas 1523 Spain
Began writing ‘Apologetica Historia de las Indias’ (published 1875!) in which he mentions rubber balls and claims that Columbus brought one to Seville.
H Cortez 1528 Spain
Returned to Spain with two teams of ball players. (some say this is what confused la Casas.
Peter of Anghiera 1530 Spain
First mention of rubber (gummi Optima) in print.
De Motolina
1536 Spain
Describes Aztec religious rites involving rubber.
D’Orviedo y Valdes
1536 Spain
Describes the N American Indian ball game (Batey).Some balls light in weight – blown rubber?
A de Mendoza
1549 Mexico
Commissioned an Aztec account of Mexican history.
  mid 16th Century Guatamala
An unknown noble wrote down the myths of Mayan creation much relates to the twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque (also known as the Sun and Venus) and how they outwitted the ‘Lords of earth’ by their skill at pok-ta-pok (one name for the ball game). The book is the ‘Popol Voh’.
F Hernandez
1570 - 1577 Mexico
The first person to describe the Mexican rubber tree from first hand observation.
R Hakluyt
1587 UK
Obtained Spanish version of Mendoza’s document (1549) and Lok translated it into English. Inter alia it mentions rubber balls being paid as tribute.
A de Herrera Tordesillas
1601 Spain
Writes of Haitian ball game and Mexican trees which can which can be cut to yield ‘milk’ which gives rubber.
M Lok
1612 UK
Translated Peter of Angiera’s 1530 book into English.
1615 Mexico
Taught how to waterproof cloth and make dipped goods by Indians. Also described the use of rubber distillate as medicine to be taken internally.
Fr A Vieria
1651 Amazonia
Jesuits founded Santarem, 500 miles inland on the Amazon / Tapajos confluence – home later of Henry Wickham.
B Cobo
1653 Spain
Associated “Cachuc”, which in the Kechua language relates to demon worship and magic, with rubber (liquid obtained from a tree.
J Tradescant
1656 UK
First appearance of gutta percha in the UK – called ‘Mazer Wood’. Gutta percha is a Malay word.
Charles Marie de la Condamine
1735 - 1745 Andes
Described how Indians “milked” trees for liquid to waterproof fabrics. The ndians called the tree “HEVA” and the gum from the liquid “CAHUTSCHU”. He used the word “latex” to describe the “milk” or sap from the tree.
François Fresneau
1743 - 1746 French Guana
Realised the potential of the material and infected France with enthusiasm for rubber research. The problem was that latex could not be shipped to Europe without ‘going bad’ and solidifying.
F Fresneau
1747 Cayenne
Discovered the only ‘hevea braziliensis’ in French Guiana which led to much confusion!!
La Condamine
1751 France
Presented his and Fresneau’s work to Paris Academy of Science.
Don José
1755 Portugal
The King of Portugal sent boots to Para to be waterproofed.
F Fresneau
1761 France
Discovered turpentine an ideal solvent for rubber. He told Minister Bertan who ‘leaked’ information to two professional Scientists, Herrisant and Macquer.
Herrisant & Macquer 1763 France
Worked and published separately on rubber solvents and obtained perhaps undeserved credit (see 1942).
J Banks
1768 UK
First references to rubber in the UK. Purchased latex(?) in London and sent two rubber balls to John Canton.
Macquer 1768 France
Replaced turps with ether and cast strong films which were not sticky. Also made tubing on wax formers and suggested catheters as a possible product.
Macquer 1769 France
Made riding boots for Frederic the Great by multiple dipping process.
P Poivre 1769 Mauritius First "modern" observation of ‘African’ rubber. Probably the landolphia rubber plant.
E Nairne
1770 UK
Started to sell cubes of rubber from his artists’ shop as pencil erasers.
Priestly (of oxygen fame) 1770 UK
Noted that Nairne sold a ½ inch cube of material for erasing pencil marks for 3 shillings. He called it “INDIA RUBBER” having found from whence it came.
M. Vaucasan
1772 France
Interested in rubber – asked Minister Bertan to write to Fresneau (now in retirement in SW France) asking for all the information he had on rubber. Perhaps this was the initiation of the modern rubber industry?
1775 France
(Also called ‘Magellan’) ’discovered’ the same thing five years later.
JCA Theden
1777 Germany
Proposed catheters reinforced with silk-coated spirally-wound wire and then coated with rubber from solution.
J Ingenhousz


Wrote of constructing rubber tubing by sticking together freshly cut surfaces of rubber – much stronger than solution tubing and, without knowing it, the principle which made Hancock’s masticater work (Fresneau was aware of this stickiness but his comments were not published until later).
A Juliaans
1780 N’lands
First Thesis (or book) solely on rubber (to University of Utrecht). Concludes that the various Amazonian botanists were writing about more than just one ‘rubber’ tree. He refers to many medical applications including catheters.
F de St Fond
1781 France
First mention of rubber coating balloon fabrics.
JAC Charles 1783 France
First hydrogen-filled balloon. The fabric was rubber-proofed oiled silk.
V Cervantes 1786 Mexico
Wrote of the indigenous Mexican rubber industry and of the ‘Ule tree’ from which the latex came. Noted that acetic acid coagulated the latex to give a clean solid rubber.
Roberts & Dight 1790 UK
First patent referring to rubber – solution for treating canvas before oil painting.
G Fabrioni 1791 UK
Wrote of 20 years research with the new solvent ‘naphtha’ and its excellent solvent properties for rubber.
Gossart 1791 France
Re-discovered Fresneau/Ingenhousz’ processes for building ‘cut’ tubing – added a ‘heat-sealing’ process.
S Peal 1791 UK
Patented waterproofing of many fabrics with rubber solution. Suggested latex could be similarly used.
Fourcroy 1791 France
Stabilised latex with alkali.
J Watt 1794 UK
Developed an instrument for gas inhalation using ‘Gossart’ tubing.
SD de la Vega 1798 Mexico
Laminated two layers of chamois leather with a latex adhesive to give bags strong enough to transport mercury across the Atlantic.
C Goodyear 1800 USA
W Roxburgh 1801 France
May have made ebonite by passing chlorine into a solution of rubber in carbon disulphide – a white inelastic mass.
  1803 France
Probably the first ‘Rubber Factory’ (to make elastic bands) built near Paris.
Fourcroy & Nicholson 1804 France
Suggested alkali-stabilised latex could be shipped to Europe.
P de Beauvais 1805 West Africa
Classified a rubber-producing vine.
J Bright 1810 UK
Founded John Bright & Bros to supply cloth and fabric for rubber belting manufacturers.
J Reithoffer 1811 Austria
Started a rubber goods factory in Vienna.
Baron PL Schilling 1811 Germany
Probably the first rubber-insulated cable used for underwater telegraphy experiments.
Baron PL Schilling 1812 Germany
He used similar a similar cable to explode mines underwater.
JF Hummel 1813 USA
Gum elastic varnish – first US patent which mentions rubber.
J Clark 1813 UK
Patent for making inflatable articles from rubber interior-coated fabrics – beds, cushions etc.
J Syme 1818 UK
Proposed a substance from coal tar be used as a rubber solvent – cheap and readily available with the new gas lighting.
Weisse 1818 UK
Manufactured curved catheters with excellent surface finishes.