Vulcanite was patented in 1846 by Goodyear and consists of Vulcanised rubber heated to one hundred and fifteen degrees Celsius and mixed sulphur at a ratio of one hundred to one. It can be moulded and soon became the prefered stopper for the internal screw top glass bottle invented by Henry Barrett in 1872. The early stoppers were wood turned but the reusable and durable nature of the Vulcanite stopper ensured that this type of stopper was to used for 100 years up until the 1970's. At Margate a complete timeline of Vulcanite stoppers can be found reflecting the habits of the people that visited Margate in the past and where they came from. I have recorded that almost all stoppers I have found originate from local mineral and brewery companies or from London as Margate was and still is a popular place to visit by Londoners. Some I must also mention do originate from the North East of England and are related to the coal trade that passed through Margate Harbour.
In 1998 after the remains of Margate Jetty was finally removed from the landscape many Victorian stoppers appeared around the Nayland Rock and many were still in the host bottle neck that had been broken. Today the origin of most finds is a result of the sea defence works and like 1998 most of the finds are still in their host bottle necks.I must admit in general I do keep attention to detail of everything I find, but I did have this habit of removing the stopper from the bottleneck in order lighten my load plus most stoppers are embossed with the manufactures name, so why keep the neck. This was something I was to later regret because in the Autumn of this year I found on the beach a complete early machine made internal screw top plain bottle without the stopper. If I had kept all my stoppers in their original necks I would have been able to match the neck and stopper with my complete bottle so I am now left guessing.
Above is a photograph of a selection of stoppers I have found with recent finds now in their host bottle necks. The internet is a wonderful tool and I can match almost 99% of my finds with the relevant information but I still get stuck on a few like WCR Ltd in a olive green applied lip.
Recently I was given some stoppers by a local inland dump digger and I am now building up a bit of a collection of Vulcanite stoppers. I have sent out some to people who are looking for a particular stopper plus I have matched stoppers to bottles that are in the Margate Museum collection.
|Late 1960's early 1970's Tizer bottle stopper found in Margate Harbour|