Unravelling 19th Century Turkey Red Textiles: Approaches for Heritage Science Through Historical Re-Creation and Chemical Analysis

Wertz, J., Quye, A. , France, D., Richmond, L. and Tang, P. L. (2016) Unravelling 19th Century Turkey Red Textiles: Approaches for Heritage Science Through Historical Re-Creation and Chemical Analysis. In: 2nd International Conference on Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage, and Archaeology, Oxford, UK, 20-21 June 2016,

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Turkey red textiles were major economic commodities for the 19th-century industrial powerhouses of Glasgow and Manchester. An accomplished feat of dyeing technology and chemical complexity, the multi-step Turkey red dyeing process and its fabled superior colour-fastness has remained compellingly mysterious for over a century. Innovative cross-disciplinary, process-based heritage science research by the University of Glasgow is now unravelling secrets of past production methods and materials to inform the preservation and display for museum and archive Turkey red textile collections. Central to the research is identifying key chemical markers to distinguish real Turkey red from imitations for collection significance and material behaviour prediction, especially colour-fastness. Re-creation of the process by historical technical research informed by modern dye chemistry and organic synthesis, combined with comparative analytical studies of historical examples by 1H and 13C NMR, ATR-FTIR, diffuse FTIR (DRIFTS), UHPLC-PDA and LC-MS, reveals signature material markers for true Turkey red and explains why such a chemically-complex process was needed. Hand-held DRIFTS is proving highly useful for non-invasive screening of historical collections to detect oil residues as chemical signatures of the true process, while increased sensitivity from UHPLC-PDA greatly reduces sample sizes for dye analysis to detect photosensitive and labile components and to distinguish the anthraquinones of traditional natural madder dyes from synthetic alizarin equivalents used commercially from 1870. Placing the analytical results within historical contexts of commercial technology is offering a unique perspective on primary material evidence for the collections care of Turkey red textiles.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Quye, Dr Anita and Richmond, Ms Lesley
Authors: Wertz, J., Quye, A., France, D., Richmond, L., and Tang, P. L.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
University Services > Library and Collection Services > Library
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