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Christopher Columbus: The Great Discoverer

Famed for discovering the Americas, Christopher Columbus is one of the greatest explorers in history. His story is an incredibly interesting one, involving challenges, defeats, unexpected new worlds… and the discovery of rubber bouncy balls!

Christopher Columbus

© bbourdages/ Adobe Stock


Early life

Born in Genoa in Italy in 1451, Christopher Columbus first took to the seas at an early age. During a voyage off the coast of Portugal in 1476, his boat came under attack and he was forced to swim ashore. Columbus settled in Portugal for a while, working as a trader, before moving to Spain.

Inspired by tales of gold and spices, Columbus increasingly became intrigued by the idea of sailing to China and India. He knew that a voyage via the Middle East would be too tricky, so he came up with a plan to sail westwards instead.

Columbus had trouble obtaining sponsorship and support for his voyage, until eventually the King and Queen of Spain agreed to finance this monumental expedition.


The great voyage

In 1492, Columbus set sail across the Atlantic Ocean, with a trio of ships - the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Niña. After 36 days, the crew discovered land, in what in fact was the Bahamas. After an exchange with the locals (which he believed were Indians), Columbus and his men ventured further, discovering Cuba and Hispaniola. Columbus incorrectly believed he had reached the shores of China and Japan.

Despite the Santa Maria getting wrecked, Columbus sailed back to Spain jubilant with achieving his goal of reaching what he thought was Asia, and to claim his riches.

Further voyages followed in 1493, when he discovered more islands in the Caribbean and mainland Venezuela, believing he had found China and its islands.

Life at sea was often a rocky affair for Columbus. Not only did he discover that his men who had set up a settlement on an island had been slaughtered, but he was later arrested by the Spanish Crown for mistreating the settlers. Although the charges were dropped, Columbus had to relinquish his title of governor of the Indies.

Despite this setback, Columbus made his final voyage to the new lands in 1502, where he sailed along the east coast of America.

Although Columbus never regained his titles, he did manage to take back some of his riches from his epic voyages. He died in 1506, firmly believing he had discovered a shortcut to Asia.


Discovering rubber

Christopher Columbus opened up the Americas for trade and colonisation with the rest of the world, but he is also famed for introducing new discoveries to Europe including turkeys, pineapples and rubber.

In fact, early records relating to the discovery of rubber credit Columbus. He noted locals in Haiti playing a game with a ball that bounced - made from the gum of a rubber tree. Following his second voyage in 1496, Columbus returned to Spain with these rubber balls from the West Indies. The Spanish had never seen anything like them before - the only balls they'd encountered were made from leather.

Following this discovery, the Spaniards documented in 1615 how natural latex could be effectively used to waterproof leather and fabrics. Since then, the durable, strong and elastic properties of rubber have enabled it to be used for a whole plethora of everyday items including tyres, footwear, erasers, elastic bands and hosepipes.

If you're seeking high-quality rubber products such as matting, sheeting, mouldings, extrusions or gaskets and seals, Coruba has everything you need at affordable prices.

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