C. R. Delaney, “The Real American Dyestuff Industry”, Journal of the American Leather Chemists Association, ,Volume XIV, 1919, Chemical Publishing Co.,
Easton, PA. (Read at the Atlantic City meeting of the A. L. C. A. May 22, 1919):
During the course of certain addresses made in the past few years I do not recall any occasion when I had to preface any remarks that I was about to make
with an apology. For one thing when I spoke about the matter of natural dyestuffs the subject required no such preamble, and secondly when a man feels
that he has done as well as his powers permit there is nothing further to be said in relation to the matter; but at this time and for this occasion it is
Some months ago my very good friend, Mr. Oberfell, asked whether the natural dyewood extract manufacturers desired to make any statement concerning
their business at the forthcoming convention of the A. L. C. A. which is the present one, and to this request in an unguarded moment I acceded, and was
very glad to; and when he said that I could choose my own subject I decided to confine my remarks to the Real American Dyestuff Industry, and with this in
mind proceeded to secure what information there was pertaining to it. This was more of a task than might be imagined for one has to go back to the date of
the earliest foundations of our Republic to find the beginning of this great though little known industry. Well, the result of this investigation produced
such a tremendous array of information that it was impossible to remember it all, and notes had to be jotted down about it, and this was the occasion of my
When it has been my privilege to be permitted to speak to you before, whatever ideas I had rose Minerva-like, "full-panoplied from the forehead of
Almighty Jove" or if you prefer it, jumped hot off the bat. Whatever ideas there were rattling around in my head projected themselves forth with great
speed, and as much precision as under the circumstances was possible for I was seldom prepared with any detailed information and trusted to a more or
less treacherous memory. But now the situation is different; having to record the notes that were so kindly sent to me by other houses in our industry I felt
that it would be nothing but just to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and quote verbatim from some of the statements sent to me, and this time
instead of being more or less at fault for lack of information I find I am too blame well prepared for there is so much to be said, and the majority of it is
about our competitors. Therefore, I repeat, I have to make an apology, and this comes from the fact that I propose to inflict upon you a written speech,
which after all to the majority of you will be about as interesting as some of the Government bulletins that have appeared more or less recently, even
those pertaining to my own industry; yet unlike these it will have one advantage and that is that it will not attack nor harm any industry even though it
shares in common with some of these reports many statements that a lot of other people have made to me, and for which I do not intend to give them any
credit, or at least no more than I have to.
On May 25, 1917 at a conference of editors called to Washington, D. C., possibly for the purpose of conducting the war from the point of view of those in
power at the time, Mr. W. S. Redfield, Secretary of the Department of Commerce & Labor, felt called upon to make the following extraordinary statement: "I
need hardly tell you that we had no dyestuff industry in this country or one which was existing merely by the sufferance of our friends, the enemy. I have
been told at my desk, gentlemen, that Germany would not permit the establishment of an American dyestuff industry in those words, and forthwith learning
that fact we set about establishing one. We have it now." This statement had the effect of causing mild wonder on the part of some of the manufacturers of
dyestuffs, and the writer felt called upon to write to Secretary Redfield, and state that Dr. Norton (one of the Government exponents of the most sounding
of sound knowledge, and the special agent of the Department of Commerce & Labor under Secretary Redfield) should have been able to inform the
Department that there was a very thriving and enormous dyestuff industry in these United States prior to the war inasmuch as we had taken particular
pains to go to Washington and complain about the harm that was being done to the dyestuff industry by this same special agent's utterances, and our
company had advised him fully concerning the details of our business—what we made—how long we had been making it—to whom we had supplied it. We
asked Mr. Redfield when he spoke of the dyestuff industry did he mean the little and then comparatively unimportant part known as the aniline industry or
was he speaking in such a slighting manner of the enormous aggregation of capital and brains representing the natural color manufacturers. The result of
this was that we received a letter from Mr. Redfield stating in part that when he referred to the dyestuff industry he meant the artificial dyestuff industry,
and that he had fallen into the common error of a thousand other public speakers. We did not see, however in the Public Press or in any other form either
apology or correction for this slur against our industry, and having no wish to become embroiled in a controversy with any political autocrat we kept quiet,
although it was much against the grain.
What then is the record of the The Real American Dyestuff Industry?
According to the best information that we can find, a Dr. Bancroft, in 1795 discovered that the bark from the black oak tree—indigenous to the United
States—when ground up, extracted or boiled with water was capable of yielding a yellow dye of surprisingly beautiful and fast quality. He took his
discovery with him over to the Court of George IV and there received a patent giving him the right for the sole use of the ground bark which he called
quercitron, a compound of quercus, the oak and citron— gelb, golden yellow, and we assume that the tanners of the country who had been grinding their
black oak ground this material for Dr. Bancroft, and it was carried over to England and thence to the Continent.
In 1791 the first dyewood industry was started and appropriately enough it commenced in a small shop in Greenwich Village, N. Y., from which so many
curious and extraordinary things eminate even unto this day, and it sometimes is a cause for wonder whether the artists' colony of the village was not
primarily started there because of the fact that that is the place where manufactured natural color first commenced to be produced in our Republic.
A number of years ago Mr. Joseph E. Stevens, of the then New York Tanning Extract Co., addressed the subject of the manufacture of quebracho, and in
the course of his address he mentioned that the predecessors of the quebracho company had started in Greenwich Village, but he may not have called to
your attention that Wm. Partridge, who founded the business which afterwards merged into the great quebracho company was not a grinder of tanning
materials, but an importer, cutter and grinder of dyewoods at West Tenth St., Greenwich Village in a small mill driven by one mule. Prospering, he naturally
moved out of Greenwich Village and went with his enterprise to larger quarters at Graves End Bay, N. Y. Harbor, where he built a tide mill capable of
producing both cut dyewoods and extracts, operating at the same time two schooners, the Hawk and the Partridge, which delivered his raw material to
New York City, and Mr. Wm. Partridge was the pioneer wood extract manufacturer of the United States, and in an unbroken succession the American
Dyewood Co., The New York Quebracho Extracting Co., and J. S. Young & Co., are the outcome of his early endeavors. In 1798 that mule commenced his
long grind, and from that beginning alone the international plants of the Quebracho Company, the enormous plant of the American Dyewood Co., and the
four factories of our own company had their beginning. Sometimes it has seemed to us as though that mule was an epitome of the extract manufacturers,
patient, long suffering, strong and determined, particularly the latter.
Going back to our subject, the old tide mill of Mr. Partridge was superseded at the close of the Civil War by a new and larger plant at Greenpoint, and after
that time the consolidations commenced to go into effect. The chronological order of the companies was as follows:
Wm. Partridge & Sons
Partridge & Harway
James L. Harway & Co. (see history below)
The New York Dyewood & Chemical Co.
Allow me to digress for a time.
The Boston Dyewood & Chemical Co., with a factory at East Boston was established somewhere in the middle of the 19th Century, although as to its original
name and date of origin I have been unable to get any information, but in 1869 certain members of the Boston Dyewood & Chemical Co., were approached
by Mr. John S. Young, the founder of our business, and the father of the present President, to form an extract works at the little town of Shrewsbury, Pa.,
wherein to grind and extract the quercitron of Dr. Bancroft, and Flavine, which was the concentrated dyestuff which gave the color to the extract, and in
that year the Shrewsbury Mills Manufacturing Co. was formed to manufacture quercitron extract for the Boston Dyewood & Chemical Co. In 1873 the name
was changed to J. S. Young & Co., Ltd., and in 1892 the Boston Dyewood & Chemical Co., consolidated with the New York Dyewood & Chemical Co., and
formed the New York and Boston Dyewood Co.
In 1835 the firm of John M. Sharpless & Co., was established at Waterville, near Chester, Pa., and continued under the same name until 1882, then
beginning a corporation known as the Sharpless Dyewood Extract Co. Two years after the incorporation of the Boston Dyewood Co., with the New York
Dyewood Co., the consolidated company known as the New York & Boston Dyewood Co., was consolidated with the Sharpless concern under the name of
the American Dyewood Co., and some of the interests that were a part of the New York & Boston Dyewood Co., were sundered at about the same time.
There was another American dyestuff plant which had started, according to the information that I can secure, 20 years after the formation of the Republic
of the United States. This plant was put up at Stamford, Conn., and until the disastrous fire which occurred in February 1919 it had been operating
continuously under practically the same name for 120 years, being held in the same family even after the incorporation which was between 1879 and 1889.
The plant of the Stamford Mfg. Co., was the second largest plant in the world for the manufacture of dyewood extracts, that of the American Dyewood Co.,
being the largest individual plant for this purpose.
However, before the formation of either J. S. Young & Co., or the American Dyewood Co., John H. Heald & Co., now of Lynchburg, Va., began making flavine
and quercitron liquors and extracts about 1860, on Monument St., in Baltimore. It was only a little while before their business outgrew their quarters for
naturally if they were making quercitron extract we assume that everybody wanted the best yellow dyes that they could get and in 1863 they began
operations on a large scale, and in addition to the materials manufactured they began to make extracts of logwood, hypernic and fustic, and in 1869, the
same year that our own company was formed, they built the Lynchburg plant, and through the most courteous advices of Mr. Charles E. Heald, to whom I
am indebted for this information, for the next 3 years, the principal output was flavine, quercitron and pulverized quercitron bark, and sometime later,
about 1874 or 1875 the firm in Baltimore sold all of their logwood equipment to what was later known as the New York & Boston Dyewood Co., so It looks as
though Mr. Heald owed something to that old mule for I understand that to-day his company under the same old name is capable of turning out a barrel of
completed extract every two minutes of the day, and I can well refer to Mr. Stevens' statement when he said anyone with the money and the mill can make
extract, but in these days to turn out an article of the highest quality which shall run uniform year in and year out is no child's play.
When Mr. Heald began making flavine in 1860, Mr. John D. Lewis, the predecessor of the present head of the house of the same name, commenced to
manufacture logwood products in Providence, R. I., and that plant continues manufacturing to this present day.
In 1884 Mr. Francis J. Oakes founded the Oakes Mfg. Co., and in 1886 the first hematine was made by him, and was placed upon the market on a commercial
basis during that year.
Prior to the war there were still a few other companies whose total output and scientific knowledge were not such as to create any very wonderful
impression, but the volume of capital and magnitude of business involved in the natural dyestuff industry was immensely greater than in the artificial color
business. The one exemplar of this latter had, it is true, been able to exist, in the language of the illustrious democratic secretary, "on sufferance from the
Germans," but it is hardly necessary to say that with the showing made for our part of the dyestuff industry that we had existed not only in spite of the
Germans, but because we made better dyestuffs than they did. There were dyestuff factories in Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy long before the
war, but they had never been able to successfully compete against our own products because as a general rule their stuff was not as good as that made
I cannot speak with any authority about the other companies, but I do know before the war the Stamford Mfg. Co., shipped a very large quantity of logwood
extract into Germany, and although we were not making logwood extract at that time nevertheless we shipped the major proportion of our production of
flavine to Germany and Switzerland. I have spoken with a number of the manufacturers of native American dyestuffs, and while our own business prior to
the war was the largest in point of view of pounds of finished material produced that it had ever been up to that time, some of the other manufacturers
stated that their production had declined. This was particularly true about 1908 when the peculiar German propaganda of seeing the dyer had reached its
zenith. After that time the uses of the natural dyestuffs were brought more forcibly to the attention of the users than they had been before, and the result
was a slow and healthy growth of the business. As far as we are concerned, 1913 showed us double the production of 1909, and the business was steadily
increasing. Tanners, color makers, dyers and printers were commencing to swing the pendulum back and although it is impossible to collate figures
showing the imports of dyewoods and the peel of quercitron bark for 20 years ago, say 1899, nevertheless I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind from the
figures that have been produced from our own company that there was more natural dyestuff used in 1913 than there was in 1893. It has been stated to me
that the amount of business done in the old days was greater—there were more barrels of extract. This is not true as far as raw material was concerned
because in those good old days barrels and casks were pretty cheap, and the result was that 12°, 14° and 16° liquors were freely sold, both here and
abroad in place of the solid, crystals and powdered product of high concentration of the present day. In 1917 when Mr. Redfield spoke so slurringly of our
industry which he chose to ignore the volume of natural dyestuff business "was something extraordinary, and to-day after all of the synthetic dyestuffs
that have so far been made, and some of which are most excellent and as good as the German colors which they imitate, the volume of the natural dyestuff
business is greater than it ever was prior to the world war. In fact, the volume and amount of the natural dyes is becoming a matter of such evident
concern to the artificial color people that only in February last a very profound address was made by one of the leading lights of this latter industry in
which he stated that he desired to correct a popular impression that the natural dyes were superior to the artificial ones. Unfortunately, not knowing very
much about what he was talking he made some rather serious errors, contradicting, in fact, what his own chemist had said last September at the
convention of the American Chemical Society in Cleveland, so it looks to us as though it were not entirely improbable that the American manufacturer of
artificial dyes had taken a leaf out of the book of the German manufacturer but fortunately not having sunk quite as far down, he does not go at it in such a
systematic manner. For that matter we do not feel so fearful about the competition of the American coal tar dye manufacturers as we did about the German
makers for a number of people who were in the habit of using nothing but the artificial dyes, and by this is meant those dyeing concerns which have been
in existence for say only the past 20 years or less, a great many of these people had to change to the use of the natural dyestuffs during the war, and a
very comfortable percentage of their work is being dyed with natural dyestuffs in direct competition to the artificial products that they formerly had used.
During the period from 1895 to 1914, what I will call the real American dyewood industry held its own, and there is no particular reason why it should not
continue to do so for after all the American manufacturers of artificial colors have still to originate one new dyestuff, still to make one dyestuff superior to
the German products which they have either imitated or which they have been able through the Alien Enemy Act to take over bodily without work.
As to the quantity of natural dyestuffs used for the 20 years prior to the war from what data I can secure it seems to have averaged about 7,500,000,000
pounds yearly. Since the end of the war, or rather since the Armistice was declared, which may be a little different, the drop in business of all kinds has
had a very healthy effect in removing some of the irresponsible people who came into the extract field attracted only by their desire to make immediate
money without any idea as to the future of the business, and these are going through a process of elimination, and it will only be a short time before quite
a few of these mushroom companies will have vanished, and we trust not to recur again.
Finally in closing it may not be out of place to add that there has been considerable discussion concerning the political phases covering the artificial
dyestuff situation. We believe that there should be no antagonism between the producers of the natural dyewood extracts, and the maker of the artificial
colors for our interests are naturally bound together, and anything which affects the artificial industry affects ours. If finished dyestuffs are permitted to be
dumped into these United States at exceedingly low figures it follows, naturally, that our industry in which there are millions of dollars invested suffers
from this foreign invasion. We have the same thing to face that the American manufacturers of artificial colors have, and that is that when these foreign
countries where extract works are now in existence come to the conclusion that ,they must do everything in their power to circumvent the manufacturers
of color, whether it be made from raw material once removed or fifty times removed and whether it comes out of the trees that were growing last year or
the coal fields where the trees grew a million years ago makes no difference. What we all have to figure is that in the world's supremacy that our United
States now enjoys in dyestuffs, both natural and artificial, there will be a lot of low priced material dumped in here that will have no other redeeming
feature than that of price to commend it, and we are just as concerned in having a protective duty placed upon dyes of all descriptions as are our friends,
the competition. As far as the quercitron bark extract, flavine and sumac business is concerned, the farmer, the laborer, and the railroads of the United
States will alike suffer if our business is harmed for these materials are indigenous to the United States, and the more that the industry can be increased
the greater will be the advantage to the American citizen as against the foreign subject. For our part we would be very glad to co-operate in any way which
is reasonable and just, and we believe that the time is ripe for some such co-operation on the part of the dye producers of the United States if we wish to
protect our industry from the trade onslaughts which are due to recur at any moment. The result of all this foregoing which has taken a great deal of your
time, and possibly without much profit can be summed up in a few words, and those are from one of my friends in the dyewood extract business, "I am
sorry that I cannot give you the figures that you ask for, but I think that Mr. Redfield's ridiculous statement that there was no dyestuff industry in this
country prior to 1915 can be very readily denied and with tangible proofs."
History of James L. Harway & Co., adapted from A History of American Manufacturers 1680-1860, Vol. III, Edward Young & Co., Philadelphia, 1868, pp.
The New York Dyewood Mills, of which James L. Harway & Co., of 27 Cliff Street, New York City, was the proprietor, erected at Green Point, L. I., during 1866
and 1867, were the most complete, costly and extensive works of the kind in the United States or Europe. The main building was 140 feet in length, 80 feet
wide, and four stories high ; connected with this was a two-story structure 136 feet long and 36 feet in width. The machinery for cutting and grinding
dyewoods, and for making extracts; the engines, and all the internal arrangements, were of the most modern and approved description, and on a scale
corresponding with the extent of the buildings. Their storage yard, with a capacity for storing 10,000 tons of dyewoods, was covered with a net-work of
railroads, facilitating greatly the rapid receipt and discharge of their crude and manufactured products.
The firm of James L. Harway & Co. were the successors of William Partridge & Son, who commenced the business in 1798, and consequently were tbe
oldest as well as one of the largest houses in the dyewood trade. In the course of their business career, this firm contributed essentially to the constantly
increasing excellence of American fabrics by providing industries at all times with dyes of superior quality, and introducing from time to time, new and
valuable substances, which became articles of large consumption.
The firm was composed of James L. Harway, formerly a copartner with Mr. Partridge, Joseph C. Baldwin, and John W. Harway, who were originally clerks in
the old house. All of the partners had a practical and minute acquaintance with the details of their business, and were proficient judges of the articles
which they manufactured and imported. Messrs. Harway & Co. established a trade of vast extent, reaching not only to all parts of this country, but to
Europe and the East Indies, and this fact was evidence of their integrity and honorable dealing, which, conjoined with their experience and qualifications,
afforded the best guarantee to buyers that their purchases will be such as represented.
Messrs. Harway & Co. gave special attention to the manufacture of extract of logwood—a dye of large consumption both in the United States and Europe.
"DYEWOODS AND DYEWOOD EXTRACTS", The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 84, 1912, pp. 86-88:
On January 5th Mr. T. Chalkley Palmer, Chemist of the American Dyewood Company, Chester. Pa., gave an illustrated lecture on "Dyewoods and Dyewood
Extracts," in the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. The lecturer spoke of the dyewood industry under the three main heads of past history, present
methods of manufacture, and applications of the products to fabrics.
Under the first head it was pointed out that we know very little definitely concerning the usual methods of dyeing blacks previous to the discovery of
America, and that the most important of the dyewoods, which are logwood, fustic and quercitron, came into use as a result of Spanish explorations.
Logwood, known then as " Spanish logs " was in the days of Elizabeth in evident competition with some unknown British dyewares, for its use was
forbidden by statute under savage penalties of mutilation or even death. But in spite of legislation its employment grew with growing manufactures of
fabrics, in both Europe and the Continent. During the nineteenth century, dyewood factories developed in France, Germany, England and Scotland. The
successors of these still nourish in Havre, Rouen, Suresnes, Bury near Manchester, and in and near Glasgow. In America, starting with the primitive
grinding mill of Partridge on Manhattan Island, about the beginning of that century or a little earlier, the industry developed large works at and about New
York, Boston, Stamford and Philadelphia. At present the great bulk of the American manufacture of dyewood products is concentrated at Chester,
Pennsylvania. There are two important works in Jamaica, at Spanish Town and at Lacovia. The industry shows no signs of languishing, and the world's
present annual consumption of the three main dyewoods is estimated at 250,000 tons. Of this, about 200,000 tons are credited to logwood.
Methods of preparing the raw material were briefly sketched. The "fermented" logwood chips were shown in contrast with the untreated chips, and the
advantage of ageing was stated to consist in three main changes—softening of the wood, bringing the color to the surface, and oxidation of the active
principle. The term " fermentation" seemed a misnomer, since organized ferments cannot be credited with any essential action, for the process goes on
unimpeded in the presence of antiseptics. "Fermented chips" did at one time constitute an important dyeware and are still considered essential for some
rather special dyeing processes, but they have now been largely replaced by oxidized extracts, known as hematine pastes or hematine crystals.
The two main methods of extraction, known respectively as the French and the American, were explained, and the course of the decoctions through the
concentrating apparatus was followed to its end in extracts, pastes, solids and dry crystals of logwood, and corresponding products in case of fustic and
quercitron. Specimens of these different products were exhibited, together with samples of the active principles, such as haematoxylin, haematein, both
crystalline and colloidal, maclurin, morin, morin white, quercitrin and quercetin, and a considerable list of the synthetic derivatives of haematoxylin.
Laboratory dyeings of these were shown, as also of the yellows from osage orange and young fustic, the reds from Brazil woods and those from camwood
and red sanders. Incidentally it was shown that fustic, and especially morin itself, will dye direct upon white wool and cotton, giving good full shades.
Under the third head, practical dyeings were shown in some variety, of blacks, yellows and greens upon woolens and worsteds, wool rawstock, cotton
pieces, leather and silk. The weighting and plumping effects of the natural colors were mentioned, those dyes showing an advantage in this respect over
synthetic colors, whether used on wool, cotton, leather or silk. The weighting of silk especially is accomplished better this way than in any other, and is
largely practised at all the great silk centres of Europe. A variety of colors were shown on chrome-tanned morocco, running from a jet black to a bright
yellow, all from wood dyes. The importance of these colors in the glove industry was mentioned.
The lecturer ended with the exhibition of herbarium sheets of some dyewoods in flower and fruit, cross-sections of logs, microscopical mounts of
crystalline haematine, both opaque and transparent, and a number of lantern slides of the Jamaica logwood region, including photographs of growing
Excerpt from Hearings Before the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, On the Proposed Tariff Act of 1921, Vol. VII, Washington, DC, 1922, pp. 5137-
DYEWOOD EXTRACTS. BRIEF OF J. S. YOUNG & CO., HANOVER, PA., REPRESENTING MANUFACTURERS OF NATURAL-DYE EXTRACTS. BILL AS DRAWN
DISCRIMINATES AGAINST INDUSTRY.
"Natural-dye extracts form part of the chemical schedule of the tariff bill. The basic ad valorem tax in this schedule is 25 per cent. That amount is placed
upon practically all articles. It is, therefore, recognized that, in general, articles in this schedule need a protective duty of 25 per cent. A few articles have a
higher duty, notably coal-tar dyes. As the bill passed the House, these dyes were given a duty of 35 per cent ad valorem and a specific tax of 7 cents per
pound", which vastly increased the ad valorem tax; in fact, made it about 63 per cent.
The natural-dye industry is just as essential to the country as the coal-tar dye industry. No reason can be found for giving the natural-dye industry only 11
per cent ad valorem protection and giving the other dye industry six times that amount. The natural-dye industry is not asking for protection equal to that
given the coal-tar dye industry, but it does ask that it be treated in this schedule as articles generally are treated and given a duty of 25 per cent, this
because it should be treated fairly with other articles, and, further, because it needs at least 25 per cent protection. It certainly is unfair to discriminate
against this industry, and no valid reason has been adduced justifying such discrimination. Should Schedule A be rewritten before the bill becomes a law,
and some basic rate other than 25 per cent be adopted, dyewood extracts should be given that degree of protection, whatever it is, accorded generally in
NATURAL DYES COMPETE WITH SYNTHETIC DYES AND NEED REASONABLE PROTECTION.
Dyewood extracts are in active competition constantly with coal-tar dyes in this country. In certain colors competition is keen and extends to a great
variety of articles which can be colored about as well by the one dye as the other. Also this competition covers quite a range of shades, including black,
gray, yellow, blue, red, purple, green, and brown. Many articles of common and essential use can be colored by natural dyes as well as by coal-tar dyes.
Some can be colored better. This is particularly true of khaki, used in military uniforms, of leather, of a great variety of cloths—silk, cotton, woolen—and of
other articles. On this subject the United States Tariff Commission, in Tariff Information Surveys, "Tanning Materials and Natural Dyes," p. 120, says:
"Logwood is the most useful dyestuff for the dyeing of blacks. It is used for blacks on silk, wool, leather, cotton, fur, straw, and in the preparation of inks
and color lakes for wall-paper printing. It finds considerable application also as a darkening constituent in grays, tans, browns, and compound shades and
has a small use for production of blues. Salts of chromium, copper, and iron serve as mordants in logwood blacks. Previous to the introduction of coal-tar
dyes logwood was used in the production of a variety of blues and purples. At present logwood is used almost exclusively in the production of blacks and
as a darkening constituent in compound shades.
"On animal fibers the underhand solid blueness and overbloom which logwood blacks retain in artificial light have been made in the standard black. The
synthetic dyes have not been able to fully duplicate these qualities. On wool it offers keen competition to the coal-tar colors. On silk it is the most
important black. Silks will absorb over 200 per cent of extract, thus serving as a weighting agent. A properly dyed black on silk increases the durability and
resistance to wear and tear. On cotton logwood blacks are of poor fastness and are used only for cheap blacks in dyeing and calico printing. The sulphur
blacks, 'aniline black,' and certain 'developed blacks' have displaced it for fast shades. Logwood, in common with other natural dyes, was subjected to the
most unscrupulous competition by the German dye firms. It apparently was their purpose to annihilate the natural-dye industry."
Therefore, there is business rivalry and keen competition between the manufacturers of natural dyes and the manufacturers of coal-tar dyes. In giving
protection to the dye industry in the United States, the same treatment, in principle, should be extended to both branches of that industry. These two
branches are, of course, the natural-dye industry, and the coal-tar dye industry. Nothing could be more unfair, in view of this competition, than abundantly
to protect one branch and give no protection to the other. That is just what the bill as framed does. The coal-tar dyes receive an ad valorem tax of 35 per
cent and a specific duty of 7 cents per pound, elevating the total protection to something like 63 per cent ad valorem. The natural dyes are given but 11
per cent, which is totally inadequate from a protective standpoint.
Having regard solely to protecting the coal-tar dye industry, another view is worth considering. If competition becomes greater in consequence of this
inadequate protection to natural dyes, the measure of protection given to the coal-tar dyes will be proportionately decreased; for, just as much as cheap
natural dyes are imported into this country, taking the place of coal-tar dyes, by so much will the protection to the coal-tar dyes be reduced. In other words,
in the destruction of the natural-dye industry a blow will be struck at the protection planned to be given the coal-tar dye industry.
From another point of view, that of the natural-dye manufacturer, this discrimination is unfair. On account of competition between the two branches of the
dye industry, covering a wide field, the protection given to coal-tar dyes will enormously increase the prosperity of that industry, while lack of protection to
the natural-dye industry will inevitably weaken, if not destroy, it. It certainly is not the part of wisdom to build up a new industry and at the same time
destroy an old one. Natural dye manufacturers are not complaining because such ample protection is given to coal-tar dye manufacturers, and do not ask
even for as high a duty and as great protection as the coal-tar dye industry is receiving, but do ask that the usual measure of protection be given them—
that which is recognized as the general degree of protection that should be given articles in this schedule, namely, 25 per cent.
DYEWOOD EXTRACTS SUPERIOR TO COAL-TAR DYES FOR MANY PURPOSES AND ESSENTIAL TO OUR INDUSTRIES.
The dyewood-extract industry should be protected and built up because this dye is better for certain coloring purposes than coal-tar dyes. It has been
pointed out that these natural dyes are in competition with coal-tar dyes covering a great variety of items, but dyewood extracts are better for certain
purposes than any coal-tar dyes. For dyeing blacks on leather, silk, and wool the coloring matter of dyewood is not equaled by any other known black dye
in respect to fastness, brilliance, depth of shade, and weight-giving properties. Synthetic dyes, or coal-tar dyes, cannot equal dyewood dyes in these
particulars. Therefore, it is to the interest of the American people that this industry should be protected and enabled to flourish. It is one vital to the well-
being of the country.
Another important thing: In view of the fact that coal-tar dyes probably will be protected against foreign importations, it will be extremely valuable to the
American people if those dyes have active competition from a domestic source. That competition is supplied by these natural dyes, because, as above
pointed out, both kinds of dyes can be used in coloring many kinds of commodities.
In the manufacture of dyewood extracts in the United States there is keen competition, as there are nine different concerns engaged in the business, with
a maximum capacity considerably in excess of the domestic needs. The United States is favorably situated for this industry. Fairly adjacent to the West
Indies, we are near to the supply of raw material. Our factories are located along the Atlantic seaboard— places favorable to the industry. Therefore this
natural-dye industry should be helped and enabled to flourish in this country. The United States is much more favorably located strategically for this
industry than France or England, two of our principal competitors. Inasmuch as the United States is now determined to build up a domestic dye industry
the general program, most commendable as it is, should include these natural dyes.
NATURAL-DYE INDUSTRY IS ESSENTIAL IN NATIONAL EMERGENCY.
In the early days of the dye industry natural dyes alone were used. The industry flourished in the United States. Up to 1890 natural dyes occupied the field.
With the coming of coal-tar dyes, chiefly made in Germany, and the ruthless methods employed by the manufacturers thereof to destroy all opposition, the
natural-dye industry greatly suffered in this country, as it was inadequately protected. Many dye manufacturers here came to forget the capabilities of
natural dyes in the various industries. The Great War changed the situation. German synthetic dyes could not reach this country, and the natural-dye
industry again flourished. Many dye users were amazed at the ability of these natural dyes to take the place of synthetic dyes. The natural-dye industry
enormously expanded. It is not too much to say its existence was a tremendous asset to the Nation in the crisis. During the war and since the natural-dye
industry has occupied a much better position than it had occupied in a long time. The quality of the product has been greatly improved, and while the cost
of manufacture, on account of the improved product, has been largely increased, there is real competition between these natural dyes and synthetic dyes.
Wise statesmanship will enable the dye industry in the United States to be fairly equal to the Nation's needs. Natural dyes are just as important as synthetic
dyes. These natural dyes, in a large sense, saved the industries of the Nation in the recent war crisis, and the industry should be protected, not only that it
may serve the American people in peace times, but that it will be here if a crisis again arises. During war, plants in America usually devoted to making
aniline dyes could and would be diverted extensively to manufacturing chemicals used for war purposes. While thus diverted, the natural dye
manufacturing plants would take their place in the manufacture of dyestuffs. Then natural dyes could be used entirely for coloring khaki and blue uniforms,
and for this purpose they are better than any synthetic dyes. It is not urged that the natural dye industry be so protected as to have an exclusive field; that
course is not even suggested; but it is insisted that this industry should be reasonably protected, because it is an immense asset to business at all times
and in a crisis is invaluable.
INDUSTRY REQUIRES AT LEAST 25 PER CENT PROTECTION.
The industrial world knows how dye manufacturers in Germany prior to the recent war ruthlessly endeavored to destroy all dye industry in the United
States. This has already been pointed out. Their objective was not only the coal-tar industry but also the natural-dye industry. The German was determined
to destroy both, and well nigh succeeded. The United States Tariff Commission in its Tariff Information Survey says that logwood, in common with the other
natural dyes, was subjected to the most unscrupulous competition by the German dye firms, and it apparently was their purpose to annihilate the natural-
dye industry. Thus, on page 122, ''Tanning materials and natural dyes," the Tariff Commission says:
"During the few years prior to the Great War the industry had not increased, as the coal-tar dyes were gradually displacing logwood. As previously
indicated, this was due to unscrupulous competition from the German dye firms and the lower labor cost for dyeing coal-tar dyes and, for certain uses, the
greater fastness of the synthetic dyes. During the acute shortage of dyes in 1916 the industry enjoyed the greatest prosperity in its history, as shown in
the domestic production table. This widespread use of logwood gave the industry an excellent opportunity to establish the merits of its products, and
resulted in considerable development in the manufacture of extracts."
The commendable determination on the part of Congress to give protection to the dye industry in the United States against unscrupulous German or other
like competition should comprehend natural dyes as well as coal-tar dyes, and manufacturers thereof should be permitted to continue in reasonable
prosperity. It is not asked that this industry be secured the degree of prosperity it enjoyed during the war. We simply ask for its share of reasonable
protection. Both branches of the dye industry should receive consideration at the hands of Congress. Both are necessary to the country's welfare and
prosperity; both are objects of the same attack; both should be the subjects of solicitude and protection.
Under the Dingley Act of 1897 logwood extracts were given a duty of seven-eighths of 1 cent per pound. This rate was continued by the Payne-Aldrich Act
of 1909. Under the Underwood Act of 1913 the duty on these extracts was reduced to three eighths of 1 cent per pound. This protection was inadeqaute, as
evidenced by the fact that the industry languished and was declining during these years. In 1899 the domestic production consisted of 39.2 million pounds.
In 1909 the domestic production amounted to only 22.3 million pounds, showing a decrease of 43.2 per cent in 10 years. In 1914 the domestic production
was 29.9 million pounds. This was not a new industry endeavoring to establish itself. It is one of the oldest industries in the United States. It was begun in
1794 and has continued ever since. The concerns engaged in the industry are all old concerns of established reputation for business methods and
efficiency. The old industry was capable of great possibilities, but, being subjected to ruthless German competition, failed to hold its own until the time the
war broke out. But during this period of decline the degree of protection was much greater than that proposed in the bill pending.
During normal times, to wit, during 1912, 1913, and 1914, these extracts were worth 5 and 6 cents per pound according as liquid or solid, and of course
seven-eighths of 1 cent per pound duty is much greater than 11 per cent of 5 or 6 cents. Seven-eighths of 1 cent per pound is about 18 per cent ad
valorem. It is especially urged that no mistake be made in computing the amount of protection by using the abnormal prices that prevailed during the war
period and for a period thereafter. During this period of inflated prices the price rose to unprecedented heights, such as 15 cents, 22 cents, and 30 cents
per pound, according to the form of the extract. These prices, of course, were abnormal and will never again be realized. The price has since declined
materially, and no doubt will continue to shrink until a price is reached fairly near to the prewar price, having regard to the superior quality of the present
The industry was failing to hold its own under the mild protection of previous years, but this bill proposes to reduce that protection, and the consequence
is inevitable. It was only during the war, when German competition was prevented, that these dyes demonstrated their value to the country and their
capacity to serve the country. In 1916 and 1917, when there was such a shortage of coal-tar dyes and when German competition was eliminated, the natural-
dye industry increased fourfold. This industry strikingly illustrates the value of a reasonable protective tariff.
Foreign competition in the natural-dye industry comes from England, France, Germany, and the West Indies, principally Jamaica and Haiti. More
competition comes from France than from England.
It is to be observed that heretofore France has had a duty of 1.75 cents per pound on logwood dyes—-practically twice that given this industry in the
United States during the tariff acts of 1897 and 1909 and at least three times the protection given this industry in the pending tariff bill. Further, since the
war France has raised her duty on logwood extracts to 200 francs per 100 kilograms. This amounts to about five-sixths of a franc per pound, and at the
present value of the franc (12.72 on Aug. 27, 1921) this gives a protection of about 10.6 cents per pound, practically prohibitive.
As pointed out above, Germany levied deadly warfare against the natural-dye industry in this country before the Great War and seriously crippled it.
Germany is prepared to do the same thing now, but recognizing that the American tariff on synthetic dyes may be prohibitive as far as imports are
concerned is taking steps to compete in the natural-dye industry. It is further reported that German firms are now acquiring stocks- of raw materials for the
manufacture of dyewood extracts. It is commonly understood that one extensive manufacturing plant in France was removed by the Germans and is now in
Germany ready to operate. Wages in Germany are only about 30 cents per day American money, and unless a reasonable protective tariff shields the
American natural-dye industry from this cut-throat competition Germany will again be able either to crush it or severely to cripple it.
The main competition comes from Jamaica and Haiti, where large manufacturing establishments have recently been constructed. These threaten to
destroy the American industry. The average wage in Jamaica is 40 cents per day; in Haiti, 30 cents per day; whereas in the United States it is about $3.60
per day. The West Indies have an additional advantage besides this extremely low labor cost. Logwood is a native tree in the Tropics, and there raw
material is at hand. American industries have to import this raw material. The 25 per cent ad valorem asked for will scarcely be adequate to protect these
domestic industries against this West Indian competition. It is certain that this American industry will be practically annihilated if the duty remains at 11 per
cent ad valorem, as now fixed in the bill.
During the war these natural dyes demonstrated, as they never had a chance before, their value industrially to the United States. Manufacturers of various
commodities were quite astonished to find that they could substitute these natural dyes for the coal-tar dyes they had theretofore received from Germany.
It can almost be said this natural-dye industry received a new birth during the war, and since then new opportunities for usefulness have unexpectedly
developed. Natural-dye manufacturing awaits only adequate protection to become an important American industry. All countries desire independence in
respect to coloring matters. Our Nation is starting a program to accomplish this independence. That program, if it is to be successful, must include the
We therefore respectfully submit that the rate of duty in paragraph 36 of the tariff act should be increased to 25 per cent ad valorem."
(Presented in behalf of Oakes Manufacturing Co., Long Island City, N. Y. J.; D. Lewis, Providence, R. 1.; MacAndrews & Forbes Co., Camden, N. J.; Taylor-
White Extracting Co., Camden, N. J.; The J. S. Young Co., Baltimore, Md.; Imperial Dyewood Co., Lynchburg, Va.)
The Sharpless Dyewood Extract Company at Chester, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River (see location map below). This business, established in
1835, manufactured dyewood extracts for use by cotton, woolen, silk and morocco leather manufacturers. It became part of the American Dyewood
Company in 1904. The Chester plant was the largest of its kind in the U.S. Note the wharfing facilities for berthing steamers loaded with dyewoods.
Power cranes and a narrow gauge railroad transported the dyewoods to the chipping machinery. The wood chips were extracted in autoclaves and
the extracts were concentrated in evaporators. Some of the liquid extracts were dried in a spray tower erected in 1944. The extracts were sold in
both liquid form and for some industries in solid slabs. The products were used for dyeing and tanning in the textile, leather, fur-dressing, wood
staining, and pigment lake making industries.
Top: Steam Boilers at NY Dyewood Plant, Brooklyn 1873
Left: Trade Ad 1886
Weighing Dyewood in Jamaica-1927
History of the American Dyewood Industry
|Boston Dyewood Company-1879
Image: O.H. Bailey Map of East Boston
Copyright 2009 by ColorantsHistory.Org. All Rights Reserved.
Trade Ad 1913 Dyes on Cotton Dyes on Leather Trade Ad ca. 1920
|New York & Boston Dyewood Company in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Image: Philadelphia Pennsylvania, The Book of Its Bourse &
"Jamaica's Dyewood Industry: The Island's Valuable Exports of Logwood and Fustic Products", Fibre & Fabric, Vol. 46, 1907, p. 18:
V .S. Consul F. Van Dyne of Kingston, In pursuance of a verbal request made by American manufacturers, submits a brief report of the important local
dyewood industries, as follows:
The Jamaica output of logwood represents about one-fifth of the world's supply. The logwood tree belongs to the natural order Legumincsaie and attains
an average height of 20 to 30 feet, the trunk having an average diameter of 12 inches. The usual age of the tree when felled is ten years.
The logs are prepared for the market by cutting to suitable lengths for convenient stowage, and by more or less completely removing the bark and inner
layer of white wood, which usually runs about half an Inch in thickness. The roots of previously felled trees now also form an important article of export.
The wood itself, when freshly cut, is of a handsome reddish-brown color, but the color produced from the wood in dyeing is a deep blue black.
Formerly logwood was principally used for dyeing raw wool and woolen goods, but since the introduction of aniline colors, many of which have replaced
logwood for black and allied shades, causing a falling off in the demand for the wood, it is in great demand in the leather industry, for which it seems
peculiarly adapted. There are also a number of uses for it in textile dyeing, for which aniline colors have not proved their superiority.
For very many years logwood was exported from this Island only In its crude state, but within the past few years factories were established here for the
purpose of extracting the coloring matter from the wood and exporting it in casks to the United States, Great Britain and Germany, where it meets with a
There are two concerns in the island devoted exclusively to this business, one of which commenced operations about eighteen years ago upon local
capital. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1906, that company exported to the United States $205,293 worth of logwood extract, and in addition it made
large shipments to Great Britain and Germany. The other dyewood extract factory is located at Lacovia, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, another important
center. This factory is controlled by English capital. Since the establishment of this latter company the consumption of logwood has noticeably increased,
with consequent advantage of higher prices to the growers.
In addition to the large quantities of dyewood directly consumed by the local factories, large quantities are exported. From the single port of Sav-la-Mar
more than 10,000 tons per year are being shipped.
Fustic is another dyewood, known to botanists as Morus tinctoria, grown in Jamaica, which is the source of a bright yellow dye, and, like logwood, has not
been entirely replaced by aniline colors. It is used very largely in producing khaki shades upon cotton and wool. Notwithstanding the continued advances
made in coal-tar colors and the persistent attempts to produce dyes that would replace the natural colors, the shipment of the above-mentioned woods
forms an important and increasing factor in the trade of Jamaica.
|Sample of Logwood Extract from American Dyewood Co. Photos Courtesy of Julia Stewart