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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995


Charles Goodyear spent a fair amount of time in France in the middle of the 19th century. Rather than a string of famous residences where this famous man stayed, as we have for Hemingway, history only shows that Mr. Goodyear spent time in debtors' prison while in France.

Son of an inventor of farm implements. He entered the hardware business with his father and they wen bankrupt in 1830. Then a succession of poverty, and frequent visits to debtors' prisons.

He became interested in rubber in 1834. He experimented with ways to reduce its stiffness in cold weather or its stickiness in hot weather. He wasn't a chemist and had little or no scientific knowledge, so used good 'ol American trial-and-error methods. He began his first experiments while in a debtors' prison.

Using a mixture of rubber and sulfur, a combination that been tried by others, his brew got too close to a hot stove and was scorched. When Charles saw that some parts had become dry and flexible, he began heating his mixtures at ever higher temperatures, and discovered "vulcanized" rubber, which he named for the Roman god of fire.

Goodyear patented his vulcanization process in 1844, but the process was so simple that anyone could do it, and everybody did, without regard to his patent. Goodyear spent the next few years fighting the patent infringements, with Daniel Webster as his lawyer. They won the case in 1852.

Charles Goodyear traveled to Paris and London to promote his vulcanized rubber, spending large amounts of money for the travel and the promotion . It was money he didn't have, and he spent some time in a French debtors' prison.

He died in 1860, back in New York, more in debt than ever.