Bag: 1008 Item: 16

Comb, rubber, post 1860s

The comb is made of a natural rubber, which is a “plastic” polymer. This material can be shaped, formed, as well as molded. However, when the material is exposed to heat, it will not hold its shape and similarly, when the material is exposed to cold, it becomes brittle. Experimentation resulted in vulcanized rubber in 1839. This means that when rubber is heated with sulfur, it becomes harder, less sticky and overall less sensitive to temperature changes. Rubber was used for small accessories: combs, buttons, and fans.