Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Since the era chemist issuing a warning on ball dresses - and death- to America was British, it's only fair a famous, British ( if ridiculously elite ) ball room be used illustrating the point. Almack's Assembly Rooms, London, had unbelievably survived a Regency popularity explosion and still held balls into ' our ' era. Cannot find an NYPL illustration of the era- this is Regency- but a certain " tarlatan green " dress disappeared across the Pond, be sure.
Dramatic, sure, " Era dance with death ". And you'd think our country would have enough death on its hands what with a whole war creating sad, moist mounds in newly disturbed earth all over the South. When frantic press releases from scientists, issued from England reached our shores, not-a lot happened.
These wonderful bonnets we love, flowers and leaves framing our ancestors' faces? The greenery was manufactured using copious arsenic, enough to poison both workers and wearer. Oh no! Dresses, hats, toys- paper, ribbons- era ' green ' was tainted!
Issued as the result of deaths in the UK, the warning was printed in a scattering of newspapers and once in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.
" Tarlatan " was a lightly woven, cotton fabric much used for a variety of purposes, ball gowns included. It was the green dye used, when one wished to manufacture this fabric in that color which became deadly. The same dye was used in a huge range of products, from the artificial flowers and leaves in bonnets to children's toys....
It's very odd. You can find a few articles on Newspapers dot com, 1861-1865, about this fiasco? Not a single one on LoC's newspapers, between 1861 and 1865. No idea why, some fluke but it's still strange!
1862 " Green is the color most in vogue notwithstanding.... " One of only a handful of mentions made on the topic.
1862 Godey's Lady's Book featured not just a green dress on a child but ladies making copious use of fake greenery. Factory workers were sickened by the arsenic used in manufacturing these. No, our country had no separate process. It is why England warned us.
From a London paper, when the story ' broke ', 1861
Attention became focused on dresses but the dye was used for toys, paper, beads, shoes and ornaments.
And hats! Both dyed fabric and artificial greenery.
Really did look very hard for evidence our manufacturers, government, industry- anyone took heed of the ban in other countries ( and why! ), In 1863, could only find articles seeming to ignore the whole thing. " White or green tarlatane ", blithely recommended in this fashion rundown, seems to indicate not a thing had penetrated this huge industry.
You know you're in trouble when the country Charles Dickens wrote of so harshly takes action on a social issue- and yours does not.