Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 was introduced in 1856 by MM. Guinon, Marnas, and Bonnet, 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, &c., 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 purp'e.

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 indig. enous 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 mureride, 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 peculiarly interesting from the circumstance that it is nearly identical in composition with the ancient purple derived from the murex. Professor Hoffman records, as he shared, the triumph which was felt 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 tons 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 revolution 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 those 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, besides many other colors, may be formed, by different reagents. The colors derived from the hydrocarbons of the coal series are as various and as vivid as the hues of the flowers.

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

1. The aniline, or Perkins violet, called also rosaline, indesine, mauve, aneleine, hamaline, and violene.

2. The aniline reds with a rosaline base, called also fuschine, azaleine, and magenta.

3. The blues of rosanaline, Lyons blue, blue de lumiere.
4. The rosaniline 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 oxidation of aniline, but not directly applied; a green called emeraldine, a blue called azurine, and the intense aniline black, developed only on vegetable fibres.

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 psychological character of the fabrics of the present day. Among 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 woollen industry. One of the most remarkable characters of the coloring materials derived 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 fibre 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 calicos, as they may be used as “colors of application” in steam printing. Besides, all these colors are now sold commercially in a state of great purity, and very often in crystals. The colorist has rarely anything more to do than to dissolve the product in a suitable vehicle, and to put it in presence of the fibre, 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 these 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 woollen industry, it is due to American science to observe that 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.

CHARACTERISTIC CENTRES IN FRANCE.

The highly philosophical work entitled "La Laine," being one of a series of studies upon the régime of manufactures, by Louis Reybaud, member of the Institute, accompanied by numerous statistical documents, published in 1867, together with the treatise on the industry of card-wool, by M. Randonig, and the more elaborate treatise upon the industry of combed wool, by M. Benoville, published in 1854, furnish reliable data for special descriptions of the most important centres of the woollen

industry in France. The former work is the principal authority for the statements which follow.

ELBEUF.

In the woollen industry Normandy stands in the first rank among the present provinces of France. The genius and taste of the Norman race are the inheritance of a remote antiquity. The country of Caux and the valley of Ange were renowned for their fabrics during the period of the Roman empire, and furnished plaid cloths, woven in squares, the original types of the Scotch tartans, for clothing the Roman armies. There are traces of this industry at Elbeuf in the seventh century, and of considerable activity in the 13th. The industry was arrested by the English invasion of the 14th century, and the inaction was prolonged by the wars of the Frond. In the 17th century the manufacture of cloth was revived through privileges obtained from the founder of the French protective system, Colbert, and became established upon their present firm foundation through the industrial war which Napoleon waged against England by means of the continental blockade. It is not strange, therefore, to find at Elbeuf one of the most characteristic centres of the woollen industry in the world. The whole life of Elbeuf is its card-wool manufacture, which supports a population of 19,000, and, including that which is floating, a population of 30,000, and furnishes a product of 85,000,000 francs. Elbeuf ranks first of all towns in this manufacture in the fabrication of novelties or fancy fabrics of clothing wool. Other towns can rival it in the strength of goods and cheapness of price, but in everything requiring ornament, delicacy of tints, taste, and elegance in cardwool fabrics Elbeuf stands above all rivals. It is the point above all others where the American manufacturers and designers can acquire that taste which is unattainable without the study of models. The customers of Elbeuf are the principal tailors and great commission-houses of Paris, and they are usually the judges who determine whether a norelty shall be a success. Cases are mentioned where a manufacturer has distributed 40,000 francs' worth of patterns of a single fabric into the hands of commercial travellers, thus sowing that he may reap. The harvest is sometimes enormous. The cases are not infrequent where a happy chance, or a fugitive fancy, has founded a fortune. In the competition of novelties, none of which last more than a season, but which establish modes which extend like the wave of a tide all over the world of fashion, the tide being at its height in a distant province when it has ebbed at its source, there is a novelty and activity which impresses itself upon the physiognomy of the inhabitants of the town.

In the manufacture of novelties and fancy stuffs the designers perform a very important part; for the success of a season depends upon their inspiration. A good designer makes his own terms, and the manufacturers usually secure their services by large rewards. In many cases they have an interest in the sale of their designs, and sometimes become

partners in houses whose fortunes are made by their taste. The design of a fabric is not difficult, and requires no great preparatory study, as it is only necessary to combine some hues and colors to produce a certain harmony of effects. It is a work which it would seem any one could do, and yet it requires a peculiar gift. There is a precise point which the designer must reach, and not overstep; a shade which will be accepted when no other would find favor; a contrast which will be agreeable on one stuff and displease on another; and a management of mere nothings, or little accidents, which appear to have no signification, but which make success or failure. The French designer is restrained by the public sentiment of his country, to which he must never do violence, which requires elegance without affectation, and, in the midst of perpetual caprices, demands what is natural in everything that is original.

Next to the designers rank the workmen, who act as their interpreters, by translating the design upon the loom or the Jacquard cards, and arrange the warps and harnesses so that the weaver may perform the mechanical work. These workmen are all highly paid. Another class of workmen are the echantilleurs, or men who execute the first specimen pattern, by which the probable effect of a design is determined. These men are required to be absolutely trustworthy, especially when many specimen patterns are made to secure orders for goods. Some of the large establishments keep their workmen of this class in the utmost seclusion. There are some establishments which make the furnishing of specimen patterns for the smaller establishments their sole business.

There is one peculiar feature in the woollen industry of Elbeuf which has greatly stimulated its extension. It is the facilities for credit which are afforded to the manufacturer. Cost of capital is the obstacle of all others against which the woollen manufacturer has chiefly to contend, on account of the dearness of raw material. Usually the wool manufacturer obtains his raw material only for cash, or on short credit. At Elbeuf there are several houses which are at the same time banks and warehouses, and which give credit for all operations of trade; but the peculiarity of these houses at Elbeuf is that they sell the raw material not for notes payable at a fixed time, but on an account current. Any manufacturer who wants a lot of wool can select it, fix his price, and carry it away. The payment is almost discretionary with the purchaser. Every facility is given for payment, which may be made from time to time, as the manufacturer gets his returns. The account-current is the mirror in which the manu. facturer has reflected the state of his affairs. This system, under which personal character is the gauge of solvency, has given great vitality to the business of Elbeuf. Alongside of the hereditary houses of this ancient town there are great numbers of children of their works, who, rising from workmen to overseers, have finally exchanged their chevrons for epaulettes. It is this infusion of new blood which preserves the characteristic vitality and freshness of the woollen industry of Elbeuf. It is unnecessary to say how desirable it is that this system should be imitated

« PreviousContinue »