Eustis Estate

Rubber Boots

Charles Goodyear

The man responsible for everything from rubber boots to bicycle tires began by mixing chemicals in his family’s porcelain teacups. Convinced that he could find a way to keep rubber from melting in summer and cracking in winter, Charles Goodyear spent years trying to perfect the formula before he stumbled on adding sulfur to heated rubber. By 1844, patent in hand, Goodyear licensed the formula to several companies in the burgeoning rubber town of Naugatuck, Connecticut. Unfortunately, Goodyear spent his money as soon as he earned it, fighting numerous patent infringements in court. Goodyear’s legacy is most visible in the company named in his honor, based in Akron, Ohio and in the millions of sneakers, tires, and other rubber-based products still on the market today.

This pair in the exhibition were made by the Wales Goodyear Shoe Company, manufacturer (in business 1845-1916) in Naugatuck, Connecticut, around 1880-1900. The donor’s mother knit the tops to wear on winter carriage rides in the late 19th century.