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Fascinating facts about the invention of Bouncing Putty
by inventor James Wright in 1943 and the
  introduction of Silly Putty by Peter Hodgson 1950.
SILLY PUTTY®
The story of American commerce has always been as much one of marketing as it has of invention.  A famous example of what can be achieved by taking a product and repackaging it is provided by the stroke of genius that seized a New Haven, Connecticut store owner named Peter Hodgson. 
During World War II, James Wright working for the General Electric laboratories had produced a synthetic, pliable rubber that was cheap and useful for a lot of small jobs as a caulking and molding medium.  With the war over, a large supply existed, and no one seemed to have any idea what to do with it.  Mr. Hodgson came up with one.  He bought a large amount, put it into plastic eggs, and sold it to children under the name Silly Putty.  Kids could use it to make spiders and snakes, ware it on their faces at Halloween, and even lift comic-strip pictures right off the pages of the Sunday funnies.
Currently Silly Putty brand products come in more than 15 different colors in the unmistakable egg-shaped packaging. Kids today continue to discover and marvel over Silly Putty's unique properties that allow it to be bounced, stretched and molded into a multitude of wacky shapes.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Toy and Game History   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

Mistakes That Worked
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Paperback - 48 pages
(1994) / Doubleday
Recounting the fascinating stories behind the accidental inventions of forty familiar objects and products.
Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson, Laurie Keller  / Hardcover - 128 pages (2000) / Henry Holt & Company
The quirky tales behind more than two dozen novelties, gadgets and games, from seesaws to Silly Putty and toy soldiers to Trivial Pursuit.
The Incredible Secret Formula Book: Make Your Own Rock Candy, Jelly Snakes, Face Paint, Slimy Putty, and 55 More Awesome Things
by Shar Levine, Leslie Johnstone / Paperback - 64 pages (April 15, 2001) / Troll Communications
This outrageous book is packed with great things to make with common, easy-to-find ingredients. All recipes include step-by-step instructions, and the activities are coded to indicate "Adult Help," Long Time," and "Don't Eat."


ON THE WEB:

Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Information about the inventor of Silly Putty and the role an unemployed ad man named Peter Hodgson played in the development of Silly Putty.
(URL: w3.mit.edu/invent/iow/sillyputty.html)
Official Silly Putty Site
The History of the "Real Solid Liquid®" and a timeline for Silly Putty from Binney Smith.
(URL: www.sillyputty.com/history_101/history101.htm)
Silly Putty Ads
Framed copies of vintage 60's silly putty ads for sale.
(URL: www.toyadz.com/toyadz/sillyputty/sillylist_nn4.html)
History of Plastics
We all know the many ways that plastics contribute to our health, safety and peace of mind. But how did the material plastic come about?
(URL: www.americanplasticscouncil.org/benefits/about_plastics/history.html)
Unofficial Silly Putty Site
Everything you need to know about Silly Putty including some great artwork.
(URL: bulkputty.org/creations/.)
The Useless Putty
Useless originally, people have since used it to lift images off the comic pages, and cleaned typewriter keys with it. Astronauts even took it aboard Apollo 8 to stick down tools in zero gravity!

(URL: www.strongmuseum.org/NTHoF/putty.html)


DID YOU KNOW:

  • More than 300 million eggs of Silly Putty have been sold since 1950. That is 4,500 tons
  • Silly Putty is recommended by many therapists as an ideal stress reliever because of the calming effect playing with Silly Putty can have on your nerves
  • Artist George Horner sculpts Silly Putty into unique creations which he sells for up to $2,000 each!
  • A golden touch was added to Silly Putty for the 50th Anniversary with the introduction of Metallic Gold Silly Putty.
  • A collection of Silly Putty products and historical materials now resides at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in recognition of the role Silly Putty has played in American history and culture.

 

 Silly Putty®  is a registered trademark of Binney & Smith.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised August 22, 2005.
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