WORLDKINGS - On This Day - August 26, 2022 - Perkin patent for aniline dye in 1856


( Sir William Henry Perkin, FRS (12 March 1838 – 14 July 1907) was a British chemist and entrepreneur best known for his serendipitous discovery of the first synthetic organic dye, mauveine, made from aniline. Though he failed in trying to synthesise quinine for the treatment of malaria, he became successful in the field of dyes after his first discovery at the age of 18.

Perkin set up a factory to produce the dye industrially. Lee Blaszczyk, professor of business history at the University of Leeds, states, "By laying the foundation for the synthetic organic chemicals industry, Perkin helped to revolutionize the world of fashion."

In 1853, at the age of 15, Perkin entered the Royal College of Chemistry in London (now part of Imperial College London), where he began his studies under August Wilhelm von Hofmann. At this time, chemistry was still primitive: although the major elements had been discovered and techniques to analyze the proportions of the elements in many compounds were in place, it was still a difficult proposition to determine the arrangement of the elements in compounds. Hofmann had published a hypothesis on how it might be possible to synthesise quinine, an expensive natural substance much in demand for the treatment of malaria. Having become one of Hofmann's assistants, Perkin embarked on a series of experiments to try to achieve this end.

During Easter vacation in 1856, Perkin performed some further experiments in the crude laboratory in his apartment on the top floor of his home in Cable Street in east London. It was here that he made his great accidental discovery: that aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture which, when extracted with alcohol, produced a substance with an intense purple colour. Perkin, who had an interest in painting and photography, immediately became enthusiastic about this result and carried out further trials with his friend Arthur Church and his brother Thomas. Since these experiments were not part of the work on quinine which had been assigned to Perkin, the trio carried them out in a hut in Perkin's garden to keep them secret from Hofmann.

They satisfied themselves that they might be able to scale up production of the purple substance and commercialise it as a dye, which they called mauveine. Their initial experiments indicated that it dyed silk in a way which was stable when washed or exposed to light. They sent some samples to a dye works in Perth, Scotland, and received a very promising reply from the general manager of the company, Robert Pullar. Perkin filed for a patent in August 1856, when he was still only 18.


According to wikipedia


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