Dyeing in France and Contributions of Modern Science to The Art.

Scientific American 14, 3.4.1869

By K. R. Mudge U. S. Commossioner to the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867.

(Concluded from page 194)

The advantage resulting from the recent improvements, by which the coloring matter of madder is obtained in a purer and more concentrated form, will be rendered more obvious by a brief statement of the usual processes in printing. These may be divided into three different classes: First, where the colors are fixed without a mordant, as in dyeing blue with indigo, either of a uniform tint, or where the whites are reserved by an application which prevents the contact of the dye upon the parts to remain uncolored. Second, where mordants are first printed upon the tissues, which are afterward subected to subsequent operations of tinctures, as by immersion in the dying liquid, etc. This process, until very recently, has been necessary for all madder dyes. Third, where the mordants and coloring matters are previously combined together to form the color to be impressed, which is called a "color of application." In this last class of processes the printed tissues are suspended in a vessel filled with steam from boiling water, which produces the same effect as dyeing by immersion in a liquid bath, the colors combining directly with the fibers of the tissues. By means of the steaming process, the operator can print and fix at once an indefinite number of colors, and terminate by the two or three operations of printing, fixing, and washing, a work which formerly required many weeks when accomplished by the process of dyeing after the printing with mordants; almost all the coloring materials known could be fixed by the third process upon tissues of wool, silk, or cotton. The coloring matter of madder alone has not been isolated in sufficiently advantageous conditions of assimilation, that the process of fixing by steam could be applied to it. The discovery of the different purifications of madder has placed it in the power of the printer or tissues to apply the expeditious process of steam printing to the most permanent and useful of all vegetable colors. The most important use of madder as a color of application has been achieved only within a few months. Very beautiful fabrics printed by this process at two establishments, one in France and the other in Bohemia, were displayed at the Exposition. M. De Kaeppilin, referring to these fabrics, says: "It is evident that the long and difficult operations required for fixing the vegetable coloring material on tissues are now quite simplified, and that the new manner of fixing the coloring material of madder, all prepared and combined with the different mordants, being allied with the beautiful and simple fabrication of colors from aniline, will achieve for the industry of printing tissues its most beautiful conquest. Instead of the ancient steam colors, which in respect to solidity left much to desire, the madder colors, married as it were with the brilliant colors derived from coal tar and the solid and resistant mineral colors, like ultramarine and chrome green of Guignet, will replace the fugitive colors of the dye woods. The fabrication will be more perfect, and will reunite solidity and brilliancy of colors with the delicacy of execution which can be obtained only by machines which print mechanically."

It has long been known that certain species of lichen exposed simultaneously to the action of ammonia, moisture, and a moderate temperature, gradually acquire a deep purple color, and the property of dyeing wool and silk with pure and brilliant tints. The pasty and woody mass containing the coloring matter is known as cudbear. The coloring matter extracted by means of an alkali, and separated from the woody portions is known as archil, or orseille. A new kind of archil under the name of French purple, in the form of lime lake. It furnishes very fine and pure mauve and dahlia tints upon silk and wool without mordants, and mixes easily with other coloring matters, such as ultramarine, indigo, carmine, cochineal, aniline red, etc., producing the most varied and delicate tints. The manufacture of French purple, although at one time extensively prosecuted, has been greatly diminished in importance by the competition of the coal-tar purple.

In 1854, MM. Hartmann and Cordillet succeeded in fixing upon fabrics the green coloring matter of leaves. In 1851 and 1852 the famous Chinese green, called Lo-kao, was introduced. Subsequently, M. Charven, of Lyons, obtained the coloring principle of the Lo-kao from a weed indigenous to Europe, the Rhamnus catharticus, for which he received a gold medal. The chinese green, was especially admired on account of the beautiful green shades which the fabrics dyed with it assumed in artificial light. MM. Guinon, Marnas, and Bonnet discovered the means of producing at less cost shades of green which preserve their character under artificial light by the use of Prussian blue with picric acid. It is a curious fact that, while the greens produced by indigo and picric acid appear blue in artificial light, the dyes produced by Prussian blue and picric acid appear green.

A remarkable and very beautiful amaranthine red was first commercially prepared from uric acid in 1856. This dye, called murexide, created a great sensation, but its use was of short duration, as a more vivid and more easily applied tint was about this time obtained from aniline, and the murexide was objectionable because the color, though unaffected by the sun, was destroyed by sulphurous fumes, as in the atmosphere of London, impregnated with sulphur from coal. This coloring material is preculiarly interesting from the cirmunstance taht it is nearly identical in composition with the ancient purple derived from the murex. Professor Hoffman records, as he shared, the triumph which was folt in Liebig's laboratory when a few grains of this substance were first obtained in a state of purity, and the rapidity with which the scientific discovery was made practical in the arts. When the manufacture reached its culminating point, the weekly yield of murexide in one factory only amounted to no less than 12 cwt., a quantity in the production of which 12 tuns of guano were consumed.

The long-sought-for rediscovery of the Tyrian dye was hardly attained before it was replaced by a product of modern science. The year 1856 was remarkable in the history of dyeing as the epoch of the most complete recolution of the art. It was the period of the practical discovery of the first aniline colors. The property which aniline, a product from the hydrocarbons of the coal series, possesses of forming colored compounds, was indicated by Runge in 1856. This indication was followed by the discovery by a young English chemist, named Perkins, of the means of preparing commercially from aniline a coloring substance of great intensity of hue and permanency, which is known in the arts as the "Perkins violet." This was almost immediately followed by the commercial preparation in France, by Verguin, of the aniline red. The extraordinary qualities of these products, the wonderful facility with which they could be applied to wool and silk, and the freshness and vividness of their hues, stimulated the scientific and practical chemists in France and England to search for new compounds from the same source, and to cheapen the production of these known. The most important scientific results were obtained by the English chemist Hoffman, who discovered and prepared the colorless rosaniline, a base from which all the reds, beside many other colors, may be formed, by different reagents. The colors derived the hydrocarbons of teh coal series are as various and as vivid as the hues of the flowers.

The aniline colore whose use in the arts has been fully established by practice, are:

1. The aniline, or Perkins violet, called also rosaline, indeaine, mauve, aneleine, hamaline, and violene.
2. The aniline reds with a rosaline base, valled also fuchsine, azaleine, and magenta.
3. The blues of rosanaline, Lyons blue, blue de lumiere.
4. The rosalinile violets, different in hue from the Perkins violet.
5. Hoffman's violet.
6. Imperial dahlia.
7. Aniline green.

To these may be added an orange color, chrysaniline, and colors produced from the ozidation of aniline, but no directly applied; a green called emeraldine, a blue called azurine, and the intense aniline black, developed only on vegetable fibers.

The use of these colors gives a marked character to the dyed tissues of the present age. The great change effected by them was remarkably illustrated at the Exposition by a display of parallel series of wools dyed by the ancient, and the new or aniline processes. The aniline hues were predominant in the richly colored fabrics of the Exposition, and, adopting the figure of Colbert, that "color is the soul of tissues, without which the body could scarcely exist," we might say that these colors fix the physiological character of the fabrics of the present day. Amon the wonders of modern science what is stranger than this, that the gigantic plants buried in the coal measures of the ancient world are made to bloom with all the tints of the primeval flowers, upon the tissues of modern industry?

Artistic reasons are not the only ones which have led to the prevailing use of the new dyes; economical reasons have had equal weight, especially in the woolen industry. One of the most remarkable characters of the coloring materials dericed from aniline is the powerful affinity which they possess for materials of animal origin, or nitrogenized substances, and especially for wool, silk, albumen, gluten, and caseine. The affinity for these substances is so great that there is no need of any mordant. In the application to vegetable tissues, such as cotton, it is only necessary to animalize the fiber with albumen. These colors may not only be applied with the greatest facility in dyeing by immersion, but add vastly to the economy of printing mousselines or calicoes, as they may be used as "colors of application" in steam printing. Beside, all these colors are now sold commercially in a state of great purity, and very often in crystals. The coloris has rarely anything more to do than to dissolve the product in a suitable vehicle, and to put it in presence of the fiber, in the conditions in which it can adhere, which for wool and silk are extremely simple.

The great problem in the art which science has now to resolve is to give more stability of color to these magnificent products of modern chemistry. The chemist who has furnished many of the facts above given, M. De Kaeppilin, is hopeful that this will be accomplished. He says: "Some of the results have already been obtained; above all, upon tissues of wool and silk. It is evident that colors derived from archills, such as the violets and reds, are more fugitive than the Perkins violet or new violets from rosaniline of Pourier and Chappal; that the roses of safflower or cochineal are not more stable than the roses of aniline, and that aniline black is not only superior to all other blacks, but that it is wholly unalterable and of complete stability upon tissues of cotton."

Before closing this imperfect review of the relation of chemical arts to the woolen industry, it is due to American science to observe the name of the lamented Dr. Dana, of Lowell, is most honorably mentioned by French savans among those who have rendered important service to the art of dyeing and printing tissues. The credit is awarded to him of the introduction of lime in the operation of bleaching for the purpose of saponifying the fatty matter contained in the crude tissues. He thus completed the great discovery of Berthollet of the bleaching qualities of chlorine.

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