The earliest reference to natural rubber in European literature
Natural Rubber is one of the most important products to come out of the rainforest.
The Spanish name (caucho) serves to remind us the ecological origin of the majority of rubber-bearing plants, because Spain was the principal colonial power in Tropical America at the time when rubber started to become known in Europe. Long before that time, rubber was widely known within the ancient civilisation of Central and South America and was used in rituals.
The earliest reference to natural rubber in European literature is in a manuscript of 1530 by Petrus Martyr Anglerius, “DE ORBE NOVO”.
Petrus Martyr Anglerius was an Italian historian of Spain and its discoveries was famous during the Age of Exploration. He wrote the first accounts of explorations in Central and South America in a series of letters and reports, grouped in the original Latin publications into sets of ten chapters called “Decades.” His Decades are a great value in the history of geography and discovery.
His De Orbe Novo (On the New World, 1530) describes the first contacts of Europeans and Native Americans, and includes the first European reference to Indian natural rubber. It was firstly translated into English in 1555, and in a fuller version in 1912.
Natural rubber today is used by many manufacturing companies for the production of rubber products.
Currently, rubber is harvested mainly in the form of the latex from certain trees. The latex is a sticky, milky colloid drawn off by making incisions into the bark and collecting the fluid in vessels in a process called “tapping”. The latex then is refined into rubber ready for commercial processing. Natural rubber is used extensively in many applications and products, either alone or in combination with other materials. In most of its useful forms, it has a large stretch ratio and high resilience, and is extremely waterproof.
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