Blue Ribbon

This bibliography is for the benefit of people, especially historical re-enactors, who are interested in pre-nineteenth century historical documents concerning dyestuffs and dyeing techniques. I have read much of what's in it, but not all (no, I don't read Italian). I'd especially enjoy hearing from anyone who has actually read one of the untranslated Italian sources.

This document is a work in progress. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Early, Medieval, and Renaissance Western Works on Dyes and Dyeing

© 1999 Carolyn Priest-Dorman.

Works before 1000

Caley, Earle R. "The Leyden Papyrus X." Journal of Chemical Education, vol. III, no. 10 (October 1926), pp. 1149-1166.

Translation of a third-century Egyptian "laboratory notebook," containing mostly chemical recipes; some dozen dyeing or related recipes.
Caley, Earle R. "The Stockholm Papyrus," in Journal of Chemical Education IV, no. 8 (August 1927), pp. 979-1002.
Translation of a third-century Egyptian "laboratory notebook," containing many dyeing or related recipes in addition to many chemical/alchemical recipes.

Smith, Cyril Stanley, and Hawthorne, John G. "Mappae Clavicula: A Little Key to the World of Medieval Techniques." Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, Vol. 64, no. 4 (July 1974).

Translation and extensive commentary of an interesting manuscript, circa ninth century Carolingian, containing several dye recipes scattered amongst the chemical, alchemical, scribal, and metallurgical recipes.

Works before 1500

Cardon, Dominique. "New information on the medieval woad vat." Dyes in History and Archaeology, no. 10, pp. 22-31. York: Textile Research Associates, 1992.

Compares information from three different sources on woad dyeing--two treatises (Venice and Florence) and some earlier guild regulations (Catalonia).

Cennini, Cennino d'Andrea. The Craftsman's Handbook [Il Libro dell'Arte], trans. Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960.

Translation of and commentary on a 15th century Florentine manual mostly detailing how to paint. However, it includes a short section on block printing with three fugitive dyes.

Hurst, Tony. "Early Anglo-Norman Receipts for Colours." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 58 (1995), pp. 203-209.

Includes a 12th century recipe for green using broom and buckthorn.

Ploss, Emil Ernst. Ein Buch von Alten Farben: Technologie der Textilfarben im Mittelalter mit einem Ausblick auf die festen Farben. München: Moos, 1967.

Contains the Innsbruck Manuscript, a 14th century Austrian work containing several dyeing recipes.

Rebora, Giovanni, ed. Un Manuale di Tintoria del Quattrocento. Università degli Studi di Genova, Istituto di Storia Economica, 3. Milano: Multa Paucis, A. Giuffrè Editore, 1970.

Text of and commentary on a late 15th century Venetian dyeing manual. Includes some recipes for the dyeing of fustian, a cotton blend textile produced in Italy at the time.

Theophilus. On Divers Arts [De Diversis Artibus], corrected edition, trans. John G. Hawthorne and Cyril Stanley Smith. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1979.

An early 12th century German manuscript, translated with commentary. Describes the use of madder to dye bone and ivory; also reference to dyeing silk with saffron.

Trattato d'Arte della Lana, Appendix I in Alfred Doren, Die Florentiner Woollentuchindustrie vom Vierzehnten bis zum Sechzehnten Jahurhundert: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Modernen Kapitalismus. Stuttgart: J.G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung Nachfolger GMBH, 1901.

Untranslated Italian text of an early 15th century Florentine dyer's manual.

Works after 1500

Rosetti, Gioanventura. The Plictho of Gioanventura Rosetti: Instructions in the Art of the Dyers which Teaches the Dyeing of Woolen Cloths, Linens, Cottons, and Silk by the Great Art as Well as by the Common, trans. Sidney M. Edelstein and Hector C. Borghetty. Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press, 1969.

First published in 1548 in Vienna, this is a detailed source with several recipes for many different colors. Emphasis is on reds and blacks. Also includes recipes for dyeing such things as leather, feathers, wood, etc.

Ziegler, Marx. "Little Dye Book." Weber Kunst und Bild Buch, trans. by Patricia Hilts as Part I of The Weavers Art Revealed: Facsimile, Translation, and Study of the First Two Published Books on Weaving. Ars Textrina, Vol. 13 (December 1990).

Thirty-one dyeing recipes, including several for different colors of linen. Many recipes rely on fustic or brazilwood. Info on indigo vatting. First published 1677.

Frencken, Herman Gerard Theodoor. T Bouck va Wondre. Roermond, Netherlands: Drukkerij H. Timmermans, 1934.

Text and commentary on a Dutch dyeing manual from 1513. A 1583 publication of the same evidently had the English title "A profitable booke, which declares divers approved remedies to take out spots and stains in silkes, velvets, linnen and woollen, fustian on thread; also how to dress leather and how to colour felles."

Lumscher, Nathaniel. "A Newly Published Dyer's Delight with an Assortment of Colors for Dyeing on Linen and Wool." New eingerichtetes Weber Kunst und Bild Buch, trans. by Patricia Hilts as Part II of The Weavers Art Revealed: Facsimile, Translation, and Study of the First Two Published Books on Weaving. Ars Textrina, Vol. 14 (December 1990).

Originally published in 1708, this restates Ziegler and adds several other recipes, including several that rely on chemicals such as aqua regia.

This page was created on 19 February 1999 and last updated on 2 December 1999.

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