Taking the First Steps Toward the Establishment of a Permanent American Dyestuff Industry

The Aniline Color, Dyestuff and Chemical Conditions
August 1st, 1914,
April 1st, 1917.
A series of Addresses and Articles
Compiled by:
I. F. Stone


Amalgamation of Coal Tar Chemical and Dyestuff Manufacturers in One Great Company Working as a Unit

National Aniline and Chemical Company, Inc.


(Oil Paint and Drug Reporter, April 16, 1917)

When Director Ralph of the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing expressed his anxiety to obtain from American manufacturers of coal-tar colors a supply to carry on the work of his bureau, sufficient interest was aroused among the chemists of the country, and particularly at the convention of the American Chemical Society, then in session, to consider the matter of co-operating with the government in the provision of such dyes.

At this meeting the establishment of the American dyestuff industry upon a permanent basis was thoroughly discussed, and in it, consideration of the Norton dyestuff census, first published in essential detail in the Reporter, took no small part.

Yet, valuable time has been allowed to elapse without concerted action on the part of the chemists, and the country in the meantime has passed from the category of neutrals to that of the active combatants. In its issue of November 27 the Reporter asked: -

"Are not the chemists and dyemakers of this country interested in supplying the demands of this government bureau?

"Are they content to allow a still further continuance of a state of affairs which necessitate the petitioning of a foreign power for permission to import needed materials for government use?

"With an increase in production in this country to a present-day total of 27,000 tons of aniline colors it would seem within the bounds of possibility that some steps should be taken at once to do away with such humiliating conditions as Director Ralph's action in turning to Germany fully bear out."

The first step toward the unification of the dyestuffs industry of this country was taken during the past week an effort to establish upon a permanent footing a self-contained productive industry, from the coal base to the finished coal-tar color, through the production of coke-oven by-products, acids and intermediates, without recourse to foreign laboratories. The concerns thus co-operating are not competitive, but each produces one or more of the components entering into coal-tar color manufacture, or the finished aniline colors complete. The weight of the consolidation, for combination it is not, is such that it already produces about 50 per cent, of the coal-tar colors of commerce ordinarily used in this country, including 75 per cent, of the sulphur black.

With the capital available, and with the economic centralization of laboratory and productive effort possible in such an amalgamation as that proposed, there is a distinct promise of permanent achievement on the part of the American dye maker which augurs well, not alone for the production of the complete list of commercial colors demanded by American industries, but for the erection of a trade bulwark against the encroachments of foreign color manufacturers when the war shall end as eventually it must.

If the present war has taught any single lesson to the American producer and consumer in any line of commercial endeavor it has been that of preparedness the necessity of providing sources of supply within our own borders, of developing our productive capacity, or of creating new methods and new production.

The first steps toward an adequate American dyestuff industry have been taken by one group of producers. Subsequent similar steps by other groups will, no doubt, follow. And, in this business preparedness measure by business men there is  more of hope and more of certain achievement than in all the resolutions of all the organizations which have considered the problem.

This is true business preparedness the completion of a definite program of action for intensive production in a competitive field during a period of temporary inactivity on the part of competitors outside the nation, that the world competition sure to come may be met systematically, economically, completely, when the temporary bars to destructive rivalry by foreign producers of similar lines shall have been removed.

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