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John Walker

John Walker (29 May 1781 1 May 1859) was an English chemist from Stockton-on-Tees, who in 1826 accidentally invented the friction match by mixing potash and antimony. The first recorded sale from his store was 7 April 1827 under the name 'friction lights'. He refused to patent his invention preferring instead to pursue his scientific studies. He did not divulge the exact composition of his matches.

He had a local reputation as a botanist, he developed an interest in the study of mineralogy, and spent a lot of time doing chemical experiments. Walker never married and lived with his niece. He was well known for his set style of dress, a tall beaver hat, white cravat, grey stockings, drab knee breeches, and brown tail-coat. He died in 1859 in Stockton-on-Tees, and buried in nearby Norton.

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