A Dictionary of Arts: Orcine.

A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice

by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.

Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.

New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.


ORCINE is the name of the colouring principle of the lichen dealbatus. The lichen dried and pulverized is to be exhausted by boiling alcohol. The solution filtered hot, lets fall in the cooling crystalline flocks, which do not belong to the colouring matter. The supernatant alcohol is to be distilled off, the residuum is to be evaporated to the consistence of an extract, and triturated with water till this liquid will dissolve no more. The aqueous solution reduced to the consistence of sirup, and left to itself in a cool place, lets fall, at the end of a few days, long brown brittle needles, which are to be freed by pressure from the mother water, and dried. That water being treated with animal charcoal, filtered and evaporated, will yield a second crop of crystals. These are orcine. Its taste is sweet and nauseous; it melts readily in a retort into a transparent liquid, and distils without undergoing any changes. It is soluble in water and alcohol. Nitric acid colours it blood-red; which colour afterwards disappears. Subacetate of lead precipitates it completely. Its conversion into the archil red is effected by the action of an alkali, in contact with the air. When dissolved, for example, in ammonia, and exposed to the atmosphere, it takes a dirty brown red hue; but when the orcine is exposed to air charged with vapors of ammonia, it assumes by degrees a fine violet color. To obtain this result, the orcine in powder should be placed in a capsule, alongside of a saucer containing water of ammonia; and both should be covered by a large bell glass; whenever the orcine has acquired a dark brown cast, it must be withdrawn from under the bell, and the excess of ammonia be allowed to volatilize. As soon as the smell of ammonia is gone, the orcine is to be dissolved in water; and then a few drops of ammonia being poured into the brownish liquid, it assumes a magnificent reddish-violet color. Acetic acid precipitates the red lake of lichen.

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