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.
Turkey Red. Cochineal, which is so suitable a coloring matter for wool and silk, does not dye a fast color upon cotton or linen, but from very remote times the Hindoos have possessed a process for dyeing a brilliant and extremely permanent red upon cotton fabrics by means of madder. [See Madder] This process traveled westward through the Levant into Turkey, the date of its introduction into Western Europe going no further back than the middle of the 18th century, at which period dyers from Smyrna and Adrian-ople first introduced the process into France, and, up to the end of the last century they were at the head of the French government dye works ; but it was naturally difficult for a handful of foreigners to preserve their secrets for a length of time from the workmen employed, and in course of ten years from their introduction their methods of dyeing were no longer a secret. The name Turkey red was applied to calico dyed with madder at the time that such goods could be obtained only from Turkey, and it still retains the name. Turkey red is is essentially a madder red with a chemical basis, but differs from a common madder red by containing oil, and it is the fixing and combining of the oil with cotton and the madder which con-stitues its peculiar durability. Divested of details, the process of producing Turkey red may be divided into four stages:- (1) The oiling of the cloth ; (2) mordanting with a salt of aluminum ; (3) dyeing with madder, or its equivalent, alizarin ; and (4) the brightening of the dyed color. The preparation of the cloth with oil is a process used in no other kind of dyeing. A low quantity of olive oil is most generally used, though cottonseed oil is sometimes substituted. The cloth to be dyed is steeped in a large vessel of the oil, wrung out, and dried in a warm stove ; this process is repeated six or eight times, the cloth being fianally washed to remove the surplus of oil not intimately united with the fiber. The cloth in this state is ready for mordanting, which is done by passing it through a bath of alum ; the excess of mordant is then carefully washed away from the cloth, and it is ready for dyeing. The dyeing is accomplished in the ordinary way, by keeping the cloth in continual motion in a vessel containing heated water and the dyestuff, which may be madder or alizarin. It is a very general practice to add a quantity of ox-blood to the water used in dyeing Turkey red. What purpose this fulfills is not known, as its coloring matter cannot be supposed to be of any use. Probably its addition is quite superfluous, and is retained from the custom of older times, when dyeing was less understood than at present. When the dyeing is completed, the color is a deep but dull red, which requires brightening. To give it a more brilliant color, the goods are boiled for several hours in a closed copper boiler, with a mixture of salt of tin with the soap used in the last boiling. No allusion has been made to the number of excrementitious and other animal matters, which the old dyers used in the oiling process, such as sheep-dung, cow-dung, stale urine, ox-bile, etc. They are at the present day dispensed with, and were employed anciently probably from caprice or ignorance. Besides being largely used in its plain-red state, Turkey red calico is figured by ordinary calico printing machines, by which the different colors of a pattern or a figure are printed in portions of the calico where the red color is discharged by chloride of lime, as in the case of Indigo blue prints and Bandanna handkerchiefs (which see). [See Mordanting, Madder, Alizarine]