Monday, January 11, 2010

A Difficult Indigo...

Around 1878, Emil Fischer* and his brother determined the structure of fuchsin, (a cherry-red dye) and were then able to develop a scientific method of synthesizing it. This procedure was used by many chemists who were trying to create new synthetic colors. The biggest challenge was to synthesize the 'king of colorants', indigo. By 1880, a German chemist, Adolf von Baeyer completed the synthesis of indigo in his lab, but couldn't find a synthesis that was cost-effective on an industrial level. After 20 years and 20 million marks spent, he succeeded. In 1904, Germany exported 9,000 tons of synthetic indigo, and 3 times as much in 1913. Whole regions were ruined - in India and the Caribbean; the English indigo trade disappeared and the shipping trade of Marseilles, wholly dependent upon it, also collapsed. (Delamare and Guineau)

*Emil Fischer - Organic chemist (1852-1919) devoted to the graphic representation of molecular structures, study of the major types of organic chemical reactions,and the study of colorants.

6 comments:

Laura said...

very interesting-a color is the ruin of countries. i do love indigo...

Martha Miller said...

Glad you're back here, Brenda! Do you know that my first son Eben was going to be *Indigo* if he was a girl? My grandmother hated this name and gave me endless heck for it! (She was very relieved when I had a boy! :*) i thought it would be a pretty name and the nickname, Indy would be really cute!

artslice said...

Hi Laura - I love indigo too.

Hi Martha,
Thanks... I'm trying to get on here more!!
Funny name story - incidentally, I went to art school with a woman who named her baby Indigo :)

HMCraig said...

That's amazing. I have never really put much thought into the economy of color... cultural associations, sure... but not the economy.

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