Aspects of Paper Tools in the Industrial-Academic Context: Constitutions and Structures of Aniline Dyes, 1860–1880

  • Carsten Reinhardt
  • Anthony S. Travis
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 222)


The synthetic, or “aniline,” dye industry, based on coal-tar hydrocarbons such as benzene, was established in England and France following William Henry Perkin’s 1856 invention of his mauve process. Almost from the moment of its inception the industry was declared to be a union of science and industry. However, though the union was strong, and was to remain so, it was invariably understood to imply a partnership in which industry relied on advances in academic research. Thus the highly relevant studies of August Wilhelm Hofmann on aromatic amino compounds and the advancement of Friedrich August Kekulé’s benzene ring were projected as the outcomes of a well-developed tradition of academic enquiry in chemistry. This certainly enhanced the rapid expansion of the discipline, but it also masked the fact that industry played a considerable role in not only influencing the direction of academic research but also in establishing the efficacy of constitutional and structural formulae when used as “paper tools.” From the start, industrial interests stimulated studies into the classifications of, and interrelationships between, novel products. They also demonstrated convincingly the relevance of the benzene ring formula.


Aniline Blue Type Formula Ethylene Type Patent Litigation Ammonia Type 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carsten Reinhardt
  • Anthony S. Travis

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