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John Motion Coats Laboratory notebook of dye recipes


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

John Motion worked in the Coats Thread Company laboratory, which was probably located in Scotland. He created this book of dyestuff recipes and textile samples in 1891.

Founded by James Coats in 1826 in Paisley, Scotland, the Coats Thread Company merged with the Clark Thread Company in 1896 to become Coats & Clark. Both concerns had selling agents in the United States by the 1840s and established American-based thread manufactories in the 1860s.

Make It Coats company website, "History and Heritage" (accessed September 13, 2016) Coats & Clark company website, "The History of Coats & Clark" (accessed August 29, 2004) Information derived from the collection.

John Motion created this book of dye recipes in 1891. Motion recorded recipes for various dyestuffs and often included samples showing a dye's effect on cotton and wool thread or fabric.

Most recipes include a description of the mordant (the substance that fixes the dyestuff to a material), the dyestuff solution, and the dyebath, as well as directions for heating solutions and the length of time needed for each step of the process.

In addition to recipes for natural dyes, such as fustic, logwood, and sumac, Motion also included recipes for synthetic dyes. These experiments begin on page 30. Some of these synthetic dyes are named after their chemical composition, such as Benzo-purpurine, but others reference contemporary culture, including "Victoria Blue," "Bismark Brown," and "Mikado Orange." Motion sometimes included the chemical formulae for the dyestuffs described.

The manuscript is a quarto with a sheepskin cover over a paper binding. The book consists of 57 pages of writing in ink on lined paper and 13 blank pages. It contains 132 samples of dyed thread and fabric swatches. The spine is rubbed and the tail of the spine is broken. It has marbled endpapers and flyleaves. It includes the original stationer's ticket "McCorquodale & Co., Ltd. Glasgow" on the front endpaper. The first page is signed "John Motion, Coats' Laboratory, 19th Feb. 91." John Motion's rubber stamp signature is on the facing page.

Item 0171: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097

A digitized copy of the notebook is available at the University of Delaware Digital Institutional Repository.

Purchase, 2004

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, November 2016.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2016 November 8
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

John Motion Coats Laboratory notebook of dye recipes, 1891.
Item 0171
Physical Description

1 volume

Materials Viewable Online
  1. PDF of notebook

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