Daniel Spill was born in
Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, England, on
February 11, 1832.
Originally trained as a doctor,
Spill entered the business world instead, joining
the manufacturing business of his brother George,
whose factory produced waterproof textiles by
spreading rubber onto cloth. The process George
Spill & Company used had been patented by Alexander Parkes, with whom Daniel Spill would
subsequently form a business partnership.
Spill had become aware of Parkes'
development of Parkesine, a man-made plastic that
could be used in waterproofing, and reached an
agreement with Parkes to further develop the
compound in George Spill's factory. The two men
established the Parkesine Company in 1866, but
the plastic proved too costly to manufacture and
was prone to defects and the company was
dissolved in 1868. Spill bought out much of the
company stock and then formed the Xylonite
Company in 1869 in hopes of making improvements
to the product. Xylonite also proved
unsuccessful, however, and this venture ended in
Still a believer in the basic
properties of Parkesine and Xylonite, Spill
created Daniel Spill and Company out of the ruins
of the Xylonite Company, and continued to make
Xylonite, as well as a new product he called
Ivoride. In 1877, other businessmen partnered
with Spill to form the British Xylonite Company,
Spill spent his later years
engaged in a legal battle in the United States
W. Hyatt, the inventor
of Celluloid. The lawsuit, originally filed in
1875, claimed that Hyatt had infringed on Parkes'
patent, which Spill had the legal right to profit
on. The first trial resulted in a victory for
Hyatt (in 1880), but the ruling was reversed in
1884 and Parkes was ultimately declared the first
inventor of a man-made plastic.
Daniel Spill died of
complications caused by diabetes in 1887.
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