Synthetic organic dyes, 1856-1901: an introductory literature review of their use and related issues in textile conservation

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Barnett, Jennifer C.;


Reviews in Conservation, Volume 8, p.67-77 (2007)


The aim of this literature review is to provide a broad introduction to the little-researched subject of early synthetic organic dyestuffs and their use on historic textiles. Early synthetic organic dyes are briefly described, as is the relevant terminology. A brief history of the development of synthetic dyes up to 1901 is given, followed by a discussion of the problems arising from their use in the nineteenth century. Conservation issues relating to early synthetic dyes addressed in the literature from 1950 to 2003 are cited. The extent of use on historic textiles is described. The role of dye analysis in the study of early synthetic organic dyestuffs is indicated, with examples to illustrate its importance. A table of the 22 most commonly used early synthetic dyes is provided with International Colour Index numbers.