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
Physical and Chemical Properties
- Soluble in carbon disulfide, ligroin, turpentine and chloroform.
- Insoluble in water.
- Melting Point = 100
Resources and Citations
- Plastic Museum: Natural Materials section: Gutta Percha
- 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
- Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online, https://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabulary/aat/, J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, 2000
- History of Plastic: www.nswpmith.com.au/historyofplastics.html