Natural Dyestuffs and Industrial Culture in Europe, 1750–1880

Natural Dyestuffs and Industrial Culture in Europe, 1750–1880

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Fox, Robert, and Agustí Nieto-Galan, eds., 1999, 384pp., illus., black and white and color

The papers in this volume treat the production and application of natural dyestuffs in Europe over a period of more than a century in which dyeing passed from a workshop-based craft tradition to one intimately related with contemporary developments in science. Emerging from a four-year research program on "the evolution of chemistry in Europe, 1789–1839," sponsered by the European Science Foundation, the papers direct attention to a phase of great vigor and creativity in the history of dyeing and show how unjustly this phase has been overshadowed in most historical writing by the age of synthetic dyes that began, from about 1860, to relegate natural colourants to the margins of industrial practice. They stand as a major collective contribution both to the history of chemistry and to our understanding of the role of natural dyestuffs in the complex processes of industrialization in the modern world.


“ . . . This splendidly-produced volume, with its fascinating case-studies (eight in English, and four in French) and full bibliographies, is an excellent resource for all those needing to improve and widen their idea of what chemistry was like in these years, how careers were open to chemical talent, how practical questions stimulated chemical theory and practice, and how chemical professions came into being.”
– David Knight, Ambix

“ . . . The book is skillfully edited and attractively produced. It should have a wide and appreciative audience.” —Isis