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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 1874.
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, which prospered.
Spill spent his later years engaged in a legal battle in the United States with John 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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This page was last updated on May 19, 2017.