Hofmann’s Violet and Perkin’s Mauveine
Today’s Google Doodle honors Sir William Henry Perkin’s 180th birthday and the organic dye mauveine for which he is best known. We counter with a volume on natural and synthetic dyes from our exhibit “Print in Color, Color in Print”: William Crookes’ A practical handbook of dyeing and calico-printing (1874).
Crookes (1832-1919) noted that “In August, 1856, Mr. Perkin patented his process for the production of a violet [or mauve] colouring matter from aniline” (p. 187). In his handbook, Crookes offered instead a vivid sample of Hofmann’s violet, like Perkin’s “Britannia” and the “Paris violet,” readily soluble in water (p. 194).
We are fortunate to have two copies of Crookes’ handbook, one in the Duveen Collection (with call number Duveen D 439) and another (call number CA 18327) acquired through the generosity of the Nora and William Cole Fund for Special Collections.