The Color and Dyestufif Situation

The Aniline Color, Dyestuff and Chemical Conditions
August 1st, 1914,
April 1st, 1917.
A series of Addresses and Articles
Compiled by:
I. F. Stone


[From "Cotton," issue of January, 1917. "Western Knitters Meet at Chicago"]
Extracts From Address Before National Association of Hosiery and Underwear Manufacturers, La Salle Hotel, Chicago, 111., December 5th, 1916

I. F. Stone

One of the most suggestive talks made at the meeting was that of I. F. Stone, of the National Aniline & Chemical Company, who spoke on the dyestuff situation. He recalled that he had promised the association at a previous meeting to produce fast colors that would meet the requirements of the trade, and said that the promises had been made good.

"Our direct black has been successful," he said, "and later on our sulphur black was introduced and made good. With acid blacks now available for knitters of wool, the situation seems to be in good shape.

"Our colors are fast, for they are made by the same formulae and by the same chemists who made them abroad.

"In fancy shades we have nothing to offer, as pinks, heliotropes, light blues, etc., must be obtained from Switzerland and other foreign countries, but black, navy blue and tan dyestuffs are now to be had in satisfactory quantity and of a satisfactory quality right here at home."

Mr. Stone also defended the prices quoted on American dyestuffs, pointing out that while prices may be three or four times as high as formerly, those imported via the "Deutschland" are bringing from ten to twenty-five times their normal values. He likewise pointed out that the cost of materials used in dye manufacture has ascended violently, and while in some cases the costs have come down, they are not reduced sufficiently to relieve the situation entirely. Besides, he pointed out, users of dyestuffs are now taking profits which are sufficiently large to enable them to absorb the increase. He related an instance or two to show how the situation has been taken advantage of by the retailer who wishes to boost the price on account of the supposed scarcity of dyes.

"American production," he continued, "will be sufficient in 1917 to take care of the entire requirements of the domestic trade. The expansion of the busness has been enormous and rapid. At the beginning of the war there were five manufacturers of coal tar products in this country. Now there are 124 making colors and intermediates. And the industry has progressed so that practically all the standard colors can be supplied next year.

We commenced operations December 4 in our new factory, and our production is now ten times as large as it was before the war. Then we were producing 3,000,000 pounds of color a year. Now our production is 36,000,000 pounds.

"When the war is over American manufacturers of dyestuffs will be much better able to compete with German manufacturers than ever before, because the expansions which have been made have been provided for principally out of profits instead of new capital."

In answer to questions Mr. Stone said that the reason developed black had not been given much attention was that the demand for direct black and sulphur black was so much larger that the other item was relatively unimportant. He said that the silk hosiery manufacturers are using direct black, but for silk piece goods are using logwood dyes. The direct black is treated afterward with formaldehyde, which makes it a fast color.

In discussing the possibility of reduced prices on dyestuffs, Mr. Stone said that the export demand for benzol, which is being used for making explosives, is holding up the market. After the war, he predicted, it will come down sufficiently to enable it to be used as an automobile fuel. He said that he did not look for any reduction in color prices until after the war, when very nearly normal figures should be restored, though he questioned the ability of the manufacturers to reduce their labor costs, which have been increased 100 per cent during the war period.

 Discussing the question of fastness in colors, which he said was a relative term, as no color is fast to everything, Mr. Stone said that the American industry has made great progress in the past two years, even though they have not done what it has taken the Germans forty years to do. He expressed the opinion that with the present tariff, which provides a 5-cent specific duty plus a 30 per cent ad valorem duty, the former being decreased 20 per cent a year, so that it will be eliminated in five years, the European manufacturers will not be able to get the hold they had before the war. Likewise, he declared, American users of dyestuffs, who did not formerly realize the importance of this business in their own industries, will support the American makers hereafter, a statement which was greeted with applause.

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