WH Perkin, Patent AD 1856 No 1984: a review on authentic mauveine and related compounds

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A failed attempt to make pseudo-mauveine from 10 g of aniline led the author into an on-going 6-year research programme. Drawing inspiration from the collective work of many others, recent results cast doubt on Perkin's stated method for making authentic mauveine. Uncovering an improved route into synthetic derivatives of mauveine, which contain a 3-[(N-alkyl)aryl] substituent, has led by chance to a removable and traceless 3-(N-alkyl) protecting group, which alters the composition of mauveine to closely match that of the museum-archived samples. The possibility that W.H. Perkin or others exploited this method to make mauveine is considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-259
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Research
Issue number5
Early online date1 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

Authentic mauveine and Schunk’s mauveine were kindly provided from the Beaufoy-Kirkpatrick Collection, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester. The National Mass Spectrometry Service Centre provided mass spectra.


  • coal-tar dye
  • mauve
  • mauveine
  • tert-butyl-p-toluidine
  • trimethylcarbinol


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