This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Madder. A plant, the roots of which are ground up and when dissolved in water, used as a red dye. The use of madder has been known from the earliest times, as cloth dyed with it has been found wrapped around the mummies of Egypt. It was not, however, until the beginning of the present century that the coloring property of madder began to attract especial attention. It had long before been noticed that cattle and hogs which fed on the green parts of the madder plant had a red color communicated to their bones, which was only removed or prevented by keeping them away from this kind of food for a considerable length of time. Also the claws and beaks of birds which fed on madder roots are affected in the same manner, and the milk of cows that use it is tinged with a reddish color, which is even imparted to the butter; all showing it to be one of the most powerful coloring substances known. The numerous dyes it yields are of the greatest permanence, and is employed in dyeing linen and cotton red. Two kinds are fixed upon cotton: one is called madder-red, and the other, which possesses a much higher degree of luster and fixity, is called Turkey red, from the fact that for a long time it was mainly obtained from Turkey. The roots are now shipped to this country from Bengal and Turkey in large casks, and are broken up and pulverized by means of wooden stampers. The coloring principal of madder is termed alizarin, and in trade the term bears the name of alizari. Madder colors range from brown, through yellow, rose, and red, to deep purple, and are much used in painting and the fine arts as well as for dyeing fabrics. [See Turkey Red]