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A milky latex obtained from any of several tropical trees of the sapodilla family native to the Malaysian peninsula. Most commercial production of gutta-percha comes from the Palaquium gutta and Palaquium oblongifoia trees. First introduced to London in 1843 by Dr William Montgomerie, gutta-percha is a tough, pliable, moldable rubber-like material though it lacks the elasticity of rubber. On exposure to air and sunlight, gutta-percha oxidizes and becomes brittle. Gutta-percha vulcanizes with sulfur into a hard, waterproof material. From the late 1840s, it was widely used for golf balls, imitation leather, joints in doll limbs, electrical insulation (especially underwater cables), and dental fillings. The name gutta-percha was sometimes used for any dark coloured molding material.

Synonyms and Related Terms

"trans-polyisoprene; gutapercha (Esp.); gutta-percha (Fr.); guttaperca (It); gutta percha; guttapercha "

Other Properties

Soluble in carbon disulfide, ligroin, turpentine and chloroform. Insoluble in water.

Melting Point 100

Additional Information

See Gutta Percha in the Natural Materials section of

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 384
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • George Savage, Art and Antique Restorer's Handbook, Rockliff Publishing Corp, London, 1954
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 4611
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Website address 1 Comment:
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