Photograph and sample of gutta-percha from a bale found embedded in the machair shore at Sandaig (NL 936 436) by visitor Jennie Hynd in September 2022. The extent of the lichen and vegetation on the bale suggests that it had been there for some time.

Gutta-percha is a stretchy, rubbery material, derived from the latex of the Palaquium gutta tree in Malaysia. During the second half of the 19th century, gutta-percha was imported into Britain in vast quanities and used as insulation for underwater electrical cables, golf balls, chewing gum and root canal treatment. Synthetic materials have since largely replaced it.

Bales of gutta-percha have been washed up on the beaches of western Europe for over 100 years, with many likely to have come from ships wrecked during WWI such as the Japanese liner Miyazaki Maru, which was sunk by a German U-boat off the Scilly Isles in 1917.



Object Details

Other Number: A286

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