Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 101, pages 228232 (23 May 1918) | Download Citation



THE Financier and Bullionist of May 14 contains art important article by Sir William Tilden under the title “The Present Position of the Dye Question.” The article is addressed mainly to business men, and is, therefore, pretty free from chemical technicalities. It sets forth clearly the causes—partly commercial, partly educational—which led to the decline of the British manufacture and the ascendancy and ultimate practical monopoly of the industry by Germany. The most serious weapon in the hand of the enemy, it is pointed out, is the position of respect which in Germany is accorded to science. The close relation of the universities to the industries of the country, and the fact that the German dye-makers have at their disposal a large body of trained experts, many of them distinguished chemists, who are not only employed in the works, but are also on the directorate, are the chief conditions of the, success Germany has achieved in this direction. Sir Albert Stanley, President of the Board of Trade, announced in the House of Commons on May 15 the course which the Board, on behalf of the Government, proposes to take, among other things, in respect to the dye industry. The proposals include further financial aid to manufacturers of special colours, and protection for a period of ten years after the war by controlling the importation of foreign dyestuffs by a system of licences. He also stated that negotiations were in progress for the amalgamation of British Dyes, Ltd., and Messrs. Levinstein, Ltd., who were the most important of the dye manufacturers in this country. The arrangements proposed provided for the new company being permanently under British control, for Government representation on the board of directors, and for securing reasonable prices and equitable distribution of the products to the dye-users, so as to avoid anything in the nature of a monopoly. This is all good so far as it goes, but the Government, any more than the man in the street, has not yet grasped the idea that this is a chemical business in the first place, and that to leave the direction chiefly in the hands of Government officials while the chemist is relegated to a subordinate position is to neglect the conditions which have been proved by long experience in Germany to be the only assurance of permanent security and success.

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