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Turkey Red

Burrell Collection Photo Library

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Turkey Red

A sample of Turkey Red cloth designed by the United Turkey Red Co.

The Turkey Red technique was introduced to Scotland in the 1780s. Madder, a natural dye which produces shades of red, brown and black, was used to print lengths of calico cloth which were then exported to India and the Far East. The cloth had bright colours and bold designs intended to appeal to the indigenous population of these areas. This was an unusual strategy for the time, as most other products intended for export to the East were designed for European colonists or for indigenous people who wished to exhibit European tastes.

The United Turkey Red Co was established in 1898 in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, bringing together several small businesses into one large organisation. By 1920 the company had its head office in Glasgow's West George Street and an office in Manchester. The head office later returned to Alexandria. In 1960 the United Turkey Red Co was purchased by the Calico Printers’ Association which closed the Alexandria works.

Reference: 1360.91.202 / PP.1986.273.58

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums

Keywords:
British Empire, calico printers, Calico Printers' Association, cloth designs, cloth samples, dyeing, dyers, dyes, exports, United Turkey Red Co



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