A DECADE has elapsed since the chemical factories of Germany began to enter seriously into competition with plant indigo, and the gradual displacement of the latter by the synthetical product has from time to time been recorded in these columns. The writer of this notice was invited in 1900 to make known in this country the chemical history of this new development of applied science, and in a paper read before the Society of Arts the following year, after describing the various synthetical processes then available, attention was directed to the extraordinary want of skilled scientific supervision which had, down to that period, marked the cultivation of the plant and the processes of extraction carried on in India. In the year 1902 Mr. Bloxam was appointed to the research station of Dalsingh Serai, having associated with him Mr. H. M. Leake as biologist and Mr. R. S. Finlow as assistant chemist. Work was carried on in India by this staff until the spring of 1904, when Messrs. Bloxam and Leake returned to England. The results achieved down to that period were duly reported upon, and the report published by the Government of Bengal in 19051 Mr. Bloxam also gave an account of his work to the Chemical Society in 1904, and this was published by the Society in the 1905 volume of its Transactions. In the summer of 1905 the Government of India, through the India. Office, authorised the continuation of the researches on indigo by Mr. Bloxam. The Clothworkers' Research Laboratory of the University of Leeds was appropriately chosen for the work, and the latter was placed under the general superintendence of Mr. A. G. Perkin, whose special familiarity with the chemistry of natural colouring matters is sufficiently well known to command full confidence in any results to which his name is attached.
Report to the Government of India, containing an Account of the Research Work on Indigo performed in the University of Leeds, 1905–7. By W. Popplewell Bloxam, with the assistance of S. H. Wood, I. Q. Orchardson, R. Gaunt, and F. Thomas; and under the general supervision of Mr. A. G. Perkin, F.R.S, of the University of Leeds. (Published by Order of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council.)
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The British Journal for the History of Science (1992)