The 19th Century and the Industrial Revolution


Roller printing and the Machine Age

The arrival of textile chemestry

In less than a generation, between 1815 and 1835, textile printing, like other textile industries was radically changed. Production, distribution and workers hours were reorganised to suit the Machine. Engineering excellence and capital investment became the new keys to success. The search for new technology, increases in capital investment and the harnessing of powerful sources of energy combined to bring calico printing into the era of the Industrial Revolution.

In the course of the 19th century, dye chemistry revolutionised textile printing as radically as it had been by the advent of the machine. A better understanding was acquired of both products and processes.These were then improved and diversified : Chemistry became a science, and between 1860 and the beginning of the 20th century new discoveries followed in rapid succession. During the second half of the 19th century, research and innovations confirmed the prominent role of chemistry in textile printing. In 1856, the English Chemist, Perkin, discovered the first synthetic dye, mauve, and by 1902 nearly 700 synthetic colors were available.

Fabric for homefurnishing, roller print on cotton, Alsace, 1878

Fabric for homefurnishing, Thierry-Mieg & Cie, Mulhouse wood block printing on lasting wool, Alsace, 1860

Fabric for homefurnishing, Mulhouse, wood block printing on cotton, Alsace, 1869

Original design on paper for printing on textile , Thierry Mieg Factory, Mulhouse, around 1880

Fabric for home furnishing, Thierry-Mieg & Cie, Mulhouse, 1862, wood block printing on cotton

Cashmere Shawl, Mulhouse, wood block printing on wool, Thierry Mieg, Alsace, by 1870

Printed “Paisley” in the 19th Century

The word Cashmere, or Kashmir, has various connotations, all evoking luxury. The cloth, known as cashmere, is woven from the winter coat of a mountain goat found in the Kashmir region of India. When woven, the woollen cloth is of an incomparable softness and refinement. The design motif, known as Cashmere, or Paisley, was created by Indian weavers and is easily definable by it’s shape in the form of a teardrop.
From the beginning of the 19th century, Alsace and England were  the foremost printers of the Paisley motif, often onto cotton squares, for use as shawls.The fashion for this particular form of design grew, and with the knowledge of printing onto woollen cloth a new fashion was launched.

Intricate designs in spicy or jewel colors printed onto fine wool were transformed into dresses, and, at the end of the century, furnishing fabrics in their turn became the focal point for these design motifs.

The transformation of a woven design, created by an Indian craftsman into a printed motif onto cotton, wool or other fabrics is an example of consumer democracy. Textile printing enabled the more modest consumer to buy once unattainable items.