Madder Red: A History of Luxury and Trade : Plant Dyes and Pigments in World Commerce and Art

By Robert Chenciner | Go to book overview

14

The 19th-centurymadder boom

A worldwide boom

THE MECHANISATION of the textile industry, advances in dyeing and printing on cotton and American intensive cotton production all made cheap popular products available. Industrialisation had spread spending ability as never before. The world market responded strongly. By 1868 world madder exports had reached £3,500,000. 1 After long Dutch domination of the market, France caught up in 1848. If the substantial Russian figures are typical of world trade, the two countries controlled about 90 per cent of the Russian and world markets. From the late 1840s French settlers began to cultivate the extra raw material from her newly subjugated Algerian and Tunisian colonies. 2 The excellent and plentiful madder roots were shipped to France for processing. France's industry had become massive, exporting over £1,200,000 in 1868, yet this was only a fraction of the roots that were used in her domestic textile industry. 3

Of this 0.42 million poods were exported to Great Britain, Switzerland, Prussia and the USA. Cardon wrote that the departments of the Midi in France in 1881 produced 25,000 tonnes (25 million kgs or 1.6 million poods) of madder. 4 Shtorkh wrote that in the Vaucluse or Avignon region of France, the annual production of 1.2 million poods of madder roots was ground into krap by 500 mills at 50 factories. Cardon confirmed that in only one of the regions where madder was produced, la Fontaine de Vaucluse, during the late 19th century, 50 water-mills turned night and day for eight months of the year to grind 40 million kgs of roots into 33 million kgs of powder. 5 French specialist garancine factories overtook the grower-owned facilities in Holland. In 1858 Dutch exports were 5.5 million florins or 3 million silver roubles. Ottoman exports peaked in 1856 at a freak £1,300,000-though the amount was around £1,000,000 for several preceding years. Britain took 55 per cent of Ottoman exports, though in the following 12 years Britain's take dropped to an average of about 15 per cent, against total Ottoman exports dropping to £398,000 in 1868 6 (see appendix 14.1, page 339).

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