Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Harbutt

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William Harbutt (1844-1921) the inventor of Plasticine and the founder of Harbutts Plasticine

1844 William Harbutt was born om 13 February, in North Shields, England.

Harbutt studied at the National Art Training School in London, and eventually became an associate of the Royal College of Art.

1874-77 He was headmaster of the Bath School of Art and Design, and then opened his own art school in Bath with his wife Elizabeth (Bessie). Elizabeth Cambridge Harbutt was a well-known miniature portrait artist who exhibited works at the Royal Academy of Art and the Chicago World's Fair.

1887 Bessie was commissioned by Queen Victoria to produce portraits of herself and her late husband Prince Albert.

c1897 Harbutt invented Plasticine around 1897, as a non-drying modelling clay for use by his students.

1899 Harbutt was awarded a trade mark.

Harbutt was also a councillor on Bath rural district council and Bathampton parish council. He and Bessie had seven children, six of whom survived infancy and worked in the family business.

1921 William Harbutt died of pneumonia on 1 June, while on a trip to New York


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