The total number of dyes discovered is more than three Millions and some 27,000 had been marketed and about two new ones are appearing each week. Now, it is 2013. Numbers are certainly much more. Around 34,500 dyes and pigments are listed under 11,570 Color Index Generic Names in fourth edition of Color Index International of SDC & AATCC.
In 1834, Runge, a German Chemist,noticed that upon distilling coal tar, aniline would give a bright blue color if treated with bleaching powder. That helped to pave the way to the development of aniline dyes. After 22 years, German Professor, August Wilhem Hofmann at London’s Royal College of Chemistry (now part of Imperial College, London) was interested in coal tar derivatives. The initial breakthrough happened by chance. In 1856, one of the Hofmann’s students Wlliam Henry Perkin was attempting to synthesize quinine.
Hofmann had published a hypothesis on how it might be possible to synthesize quinine, an expensive natural substance much in demand for the treatment of malaria. Perkin, who had by then become one of Hofmann’s assistants, embarked on a series of experiments to try to achieve this end. During the Easter vacation in 1856, while Hofmann was visiting his native Germany, Perkin performed some further experiments in the crude laboratory in his apartment on the top floor of his home in Cable Street in east London.
Since these experiments were not part of the work on quinine which had been assigned to Perkin, he and his partners carried them out in a hut in Perkin’s garden, so as to keep them secret from Hofmann. He obtained only a disheartened black sludge. Instead of throwing it away, he tried diluting it with alcohol and found that solution was purple. He discovered that it would dye silk and that it was possessed of a quality which is of paramount importance to the dyeing industry. It was resistant both to washing and to fading effects of light.
They satisfied themselves that they might be able to scale up production of the purple substance and commercialize it as a dye, which they called mauveine. Their initial experiments indicated that it dyed silk in a way which was stable when washed or exposed to light. They sent some samples to a dye works in Perth, Scotland, and received a very promising reply from the general manager of the company.
Having invented the dye, Perkin was still faced with the problems of raising the capital for producing it, manufacturing it cheaply, adapting it for use in dyeing cotton, gaining acceptance for it among commercial dyers, and creating public demand for it. However, he was active in all of these areas: he persuaded his father to put up the capital, and his brothers to partner him in the creation of a factory; he invented a mordant for cotton; he gave technical advice to the dyeing industry; and he publicized his invention of the dye.
Perkin borrowed his father’s life savings and put the dye into commercial production. It was named as MAUVE derived from the delicate purple of mallow flower.
Public demand was increased when a similar color was adopted by Queen Victoria in England and by Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, in France, and when the crinoline or hooped-skirt, whose manufacture used a large quantity of cloth, became fashionable. Fashionable Queen Victoria wore a mauve dress to the great exhibition of 1862; a penny stamp was printed in mauve .Everything seemed to fall into place by dint of hard work, with a little luck, too. Perkin and he became rich. After the discovery of Mauveine, many new aniline dyes appeared (some discovered by Perkin himself), and factories producing them were constructed across Europe. A new industry begun.
The plant dye industries began to be threatened when it was realized that the supply of new synthetics was easier to control. This was the case with Indigo. Von Bayer synthesized synthetic Indigo in 1878 and it was not marketed until 1897.
Indigo dye is an organic compound with a distinctive blue color. Historically, indigo was a natural dye extracted from plants, and this process was important economically because blue dyes were once rare. Nearly all indigo dye produced today — several thousand tons each year — is synthetic. It is the blue of blue jeans.
The demand for indigo in the 19th century is indicated by the fact that in 1897, 7000 square kilometers were dedicated to the cultivation of indican-producing plants; mainly in India India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World. It was a primary supplier of indigo dye, derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria, to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era.
Indigo is one of the colors on Newton’s color wheel. Isaac Newton introduced indigo as one of the seven colors in his spectrum. In the mid-1660s, when Newton bought a pair of prisms at a fair near Cambridge, the East India Company had begun importing indigo dye into England, supplanting the homegrown woad as the source of blue dye. Indigo is a deep and bright shade of blue Color is named after the blue dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species. The color is placed on the electromagnetic spectrum between about 420 and 450 nm in wavelength, placing it between blue and violet
Production of Indigo dye in a BASF plant (1890)
Indigo was the first to synthesize. A discovery so valuable that BASF the German company invested 17 years and over 1,000,000 pounds in developing an economic method of producing the world’s first fast blue.
In 1897, 19,000 tons of indigo were produced from plant sources. Largely due to advances in organic chemistry, production by natural sources dropped to 1,000 tons by 1914 and continued to contract. These advances can be traced to 1865 when the German chemist Adolf von Baeyer began working on the synthesis of indigo. He described his first synthesis of indigo in 1878 (from isatin) and a second synthesis in 1880 (from 2-nitrobenzaldehyde). The synthesis of indigo remained impractical, so the search for alternative starting materials at BASF and Hoechst continued. The synthesis of N-(2-carboxyphenyl) glycine from the easy to obtain aniline provided a new and economically attractive route. BASF developed a commercially feasible manufacturing process that was in use by 1897. In 2002, 17,000 tons of synthetic indigo were produced worldwide.
Its success proved the Coup de graceto Indigo farming in India, where production dropped from 19000 tons in 1856 to 1100 tons in 1914 devasting the livelihood of Indian peasantry.
Indigo, India and Indigo Revolt
Indigo was used in India, which was also the earliest major center for its production and processing. The Indigofera tinctoria variety of Indigo was domesticated in India. Indigo, used as a dye, made its way to the Greeks and the Romans, where it was valued as a luxury product.
Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing. Many Asian countries, such as India, China, and Japan and South East Asian nations have used indigo as a dye (particularly silk dye) for centuries. The dye was also known to ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Britain, Mesoamerica, Peru, Iran, and Africa.
India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World. It was a primary supplier of indigo to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era. The association of India with indigo is reflected in the Greek word for the dye, indikón (ινδικόν, Indian). The Romans latinized the term to indicum, which passed into Italian dialect and eventually into English as the word indigo.
The Indigo revolt was a peasant movement and subsequent uprising of indigo farmers against the indigo planters that arose in Bengal in 1859. The back stage of the revolt goes back half a century when the indigo plantation act was established. After the courageous fight by the Sepoy for independence in 1857 in February–March 1859 the farmers refused to sow a single seedling of indigo plant. The strength of the farmers’ resolutions was dramatically stronger than anticipated from a community victimized by brutal treatment for about half a century. Most importantly it was a revolt of both the major religious groups of farmers in Bengal, notably a farmer Haji Molla of Nischindipur said that he would “rather beg than sow indigo”. The farmers were in no possession of any types of arms, it was totally a nonviolent resistance. The revolt started against the planters. It spread like wildfire in Bengal. Indigo planters were put into public trial and executed. The indigo depots were burned down. Many planters fled to avoid being caught. The zamindars were also targets of the revolting peasants. The revolt was ruthlessly suppressed. Large forces of police and military backed by the British Government and the zamindars mercilessly slaughtered a number of peasants. In spite of this the revolt was fairly popular, involving almost the whole of Bengal. The revolt had a strong effect on the government, which immediately appointed the “Indigo Commission” in 1860. In the commission report, E. W. L. Tower noted that “not a chest of Indigo reached England without being stained with human blood”.
Denim is a tone of Indigo Crayola . It resembles the shade of indigo used in denim. Crayola created this color in 1993 as one of the new 16 colors.
In the 1960s, denim symbolized youth culture because so many young baby boomers wore denim jeans.
The development of new vat dyes went some way to solving the fastness crises.
In late fifteens, dramatic range of dyestuffs was discovered by ICI (Procion dyes -brightly colored dyes). These were the first range of reactive dyes produced in 1956. This made a major impact on industry as well as textile dyers ( called textile artists) around the world. Procion reactive dyes have now become the “bread and butter” of dyeing trade.
The color revolution is started with synthetic chemistry of dyes (Mauve and Indigo) and has made tremendous impact on coloring process. This is the interesting part of the history of color revolution.
Color physics concept was first introduced by Newton and we started quantifying color. Color Chemistry revolution mentioned above has changed the coloring processes and now ,we are able to predict color formula for any given color using modern technique of computer color matching .
William Henry Perkin
Color Index International: http://www.colour-index.org