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Shade card

Shade card

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    1896 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bayer & Co. (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven wool and silk on paper and printed

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr Stanley Chapman

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122c, case 1

This book was owned by the British dyer and printer Thomas Wardle of Leek, Staffordshire.Frederick Bayer founded his dye company in 1865 in Elberfield, Germany, before moving in 1891 to Leverkusen. When this dye book was issued, the firm was a world leader in the field. It later became famous for pharmaceuticals, in particular for the discovery of aspirin.

Strong Anglo-German competition was at the root of the development of aniline dyes. Bayer was one of several German companies to capitalise on the early discoveries in dye technology made by British chemists. William Perkin, who discovered the first artifical dyestuff mauveine in 1856, had been a pupil of the German chemist Hoffman. Early artificial dyes did not last very long but competitive research provided improvements in colourfastness and dyeing qualities.

This dye book shows the vast range of dyes available 40 years after the discovery of mauveine. The Bayer firm's first significant production was the Magenta dye. This sample book shows examples of a second generation of aniline-derived dyes and includes the evocatively named 'Alkali Blue', 'Alkali Violet', 'Bismark Brown' and 'Acid Magenta'.

Physical description

Shade card for dress fabrics. Brown-coloured folder containing six card sheets of fabric samples for half-silk (wool and silk) dress materials. The cover is impressed with the manufacturer's name 'Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co.' and 'Fashion Shades on half-silk (wool and silk) dress materials'. The cover is decorated with the firm's trademark and an impressed decorative border. Printed sheets giving the dyeing recipes for each sample (for 100 1bs cloth) are pasted into the inside front cover and there are printed bronze-coloured patterned end papers. The samples number from 1 to 88 are in various colours and shades. The dyes are shown on fabrics woven with small figures designs. Each page is printed with the manufacturer's name and the end fold has stamped into it details of the firms agents in Britain (see also T.171-1985).

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


1896 (made)


Bayer & Co. (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Woven wool and silk on paper and printed

Marks and inscriptions

'Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co.' and 'Fashion Shades on half-silk (wool and silk) dress materials' and with a lion leaning on a globe of the world [firm's trademark]
Manufacturers name impressed on the cover and trademark


Height: 28.5 cm, Width: 136 cm, Depth: 17 cm, Length: 11.5 in folded, Width: 7 in folded

Object history note

Registered File number 1985/845.
From the library of Thomas Wardle, textile manufacturer and dyer at Leek, Staffordshire.

This sample book gives an idea of the range of dyes available by the 1890s. A range of companies, particularly in Germany followed up William Perkins initial success. As chemical science and the chemical industry developed a large group of dyes were identified that could be derived from coal tar.

Descriptive line

Shade card for dress fabrics, made by Friedrich Bayer & Co., Germany, 1896.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This sample book shows the range of chemical dyes available by the 1890s. Many companies, particularly in Germany, followed up the success of William Perkin, a British chemist who discovered the purple dye colour, mauvine, in 1856. [27/03/2003]


Wool and silk; Paper


Woven; Printed




Textiles and Fashion Collection

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