Over the course of three decades, the English businessman and inventor Thomas Hancock (1786-1865) took out sixteen patents relating to the potential applications of natural rubber. Hancock's fascination with this material, the properties of which had not been fully appreciated in England, drove him to experiment extensively with manufacturing methods. This led to the development of the mechanical process of 'mastication' and the chemical process of vulcanization, the end product of which was used by Macintosh to create waterproof garments. This illustrated account of Hancock's discoveries and methods was first published in 1857. It covers the origin of his interest in natural rubber and his subsequent experiments and patents. Also included are details about the plants from which natural rubber is extracted. The result is an informed chronicle of the commercial exploitation of a versatile and lucrative resource.