On this day in history : 17th March 1845 – British inventor and businessman Stephen Perry patents the rubber band in London….
The Olmec people (meaning ‘rubber people’ in Aztec) had been using latex from the rubber tree to make balls with which to play sport dating back to around 1600BC…. The latex sap from the rubber tree Hevea brasiiensis hardens into a springy mass when exposed to the air….
Rubber had first arrived in Europe in the 1730s…. French explorer Charles Marie de La Condamine had returned with some samples from South America. It first appeared in Britain later that century and was soon discovered to be a miracle worker at erasing pencil markings…. It was given the name ‘rubber’ by chemist Joseph Priestly….
In 1820 Englishman Thomas Hancock patented elastic fastenings for gloves, shoes, suspenders and stockings…. He also invented the masticator – a machine to recycle rubber scraps for reuse…. He was later to join forces with Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh and together they produced Mackintosh raincoats….
But it was American inventor Charles Goodyear who came up with vulcanised rubber in 1839….giving rubber the ultimate strength and elasticity needed for the likes of the rubber band….
Stephen Perry, with his company Messrs Perry & Co. Rubber Manufacturers of London – who made products from vulcanised rubber – came up with the idea of a band to hold together papers or envelopes…. On the 17th of March 1845 he received British Patent No. 13880 for his rubber band….