We have Michael Faraday to thank for the advent of the modern rubber balloon. Mr. Faraday was a scientist in England in the 1800s. He used the latex substance from the Ficus tree to create a balloon that he then used in his experiments with hydrogen. It was a year later before they were released to the general public as toys for children.
Thomas Hancock was a rubber manufacturer in England. In 1825 he released a balloon kit that allowed people to make their own balloons. The kit included a syringe and liquid rubber with which the children were able to make balloons. These were used until 1847 when J.G. Ingram invented the vulcanized rubber balloons.
It was during the Great Depression in the United States, that Neil Tillotson made the next great advance in balloons. While trying to figure out what to do after being laid off from the Hood Rubber Company, Mr. Tillotson painted liquid latex onto a cardboard cutout of a cat’s head. When it dried, he sprinkled it with talc powder to keep it from sticking to itself, rolled it inside out and then blew it up. He took it for his family’s approval. With their help he painted a cat’s face on to the balloon, and then sold a test batch to a Boston novelty company. They filled them with helium and sold them for an upcoming parade. Tillotson went to the parade where he observed people’s reactions to the balloon. Upon seeing a young girl kiss the cat’s face, Tillotson knew he had a new hit. He took his savings and opened up his own company and began the modern day balloon industry.
From his invention we now have balloons of all shapes and sizes, and although we now use many different materials to make balloons the latex balloon is the favorite of all. It is easily made into many different shapes which have given way to the twisting industry and shops like All Occasions that specialize in balloon bouquets and balloon artistry!