Scientific American 20, 1.2.1851
In many branches of business it is very desirable to know how to color ivory. The red balls of the billiard table, and the red colored chessmen, are evidences that the art of coloring ivory is known to many, but the number is not numerous, and we have not been able to find anything said, satisfactorily, on the subject, in any printed work. The chinese appear to be the most eminent in making fancy ivory articles, and they color them with great taste, but red appears to be the only color for which they are distinguished, and it is the predominant one - the red and white forming the varieties. We have had our attention called to the subject lately, and we present the following as the result of experiments: -
RED COLOR. - The hands should be washed in soap and water to free them from any grease that may be on them; the ivory should be washed in some cold strong soap-suds, and then well rinsed in cold water. A clean copper or brass dipper, or any small copper vessel, filled with soft water, should be placed on a fire and kept boiling, with some ground cochineal, for about ten minutes, (about two tea-spoonsful of the cochineal will dye three billiard balls). Ater it has been boiled for this length of time, add a pinch of cream of tartar, between the fingers, and six drops of the muriate of tin, (if the tin cannot be obtained a little alum will answer); this is all stirred about and the ivory put in. After the ivory has boiled about one minute, it is taken out and dipped in a vessel of clean cold water, and then put into the boiling cochineal for the same length of time, and taken out again. It is thus dipped in and taken out of the boiling cochineal, until it attains a beautiful red color, when it is well washed in warm water, and rubbed over with a white cloth which has been lightly greased. Care must be taken not to use too much cream of tartar or the chloride of tin, for these substances injure the surface of the ivory. Those who do not care about the price of the cochineal, may use four teaspoonsful, and the ivory will be colored quicker. The greater the amount of dye stuff used the deeper will be the color.
BLACK. - For this color the ivory should be cleansed the same as for red. An iron or tin vessel may be used to dye this color. Take bout four ounces of ground logwood, and boil it for fifteen minutes, athen add one-fourth of an ounce of copperas, and put in the ivory and boil it gently f or about ten minutes, when it may be taken out and washed. If the color appears slaty (light), more logwood should be added, and the ivory boiled some time longer. The ivory can also be dyed black by boiling it for about ten minutes in the same quantity of copperas as that mentioned, and a little of the bichromate of potash, then airing the ivory and boiling it in the logwood afterwards. When the color is deep enough it must be washed and rubbed with a gressy cloth, when it will appear jet black.
These two colors are the most common in ivory articles, especially the red. Ivory is bleached white by exposing it to the sun, after being washed in soap suds and moistened from time to time, with cleans soft water. A little whitening and soap, used together, is agood composition for cleaning the ivory haudles of knives. We may refer, at some other time to the mode of dyeing other colors on ivory.