Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cochrane's Turkey Red

There was a time when one could not run a Presidential 
campaign without a red bandanna.

Benjamin Harrison & Levi Morton ran on an "America First"
platform in 1888 promising,  according to this bandanna,
"Home Markets for Home Industries"

Earlier red bandanas had to be imported but by the 1880s America boasted a thriving Turkey red
dyeing and printing industry. So the campaign textiles were domestically produced:
A case of a political campaign following through on it's promise to use "home industries."

Chief among the domestic Turkey red printers was Cochrane's Turkey Red.

Many political bandannas have the Cochrane's signature.

Cochrane's Turkey red was a brand name that seemed to have
 commercial value.

Above:  Munson & McNamara in Wichita advertised: "1000 yards of Turkey red prints, six colors; mind you, made by Cochrane the famous Turkey red man. Price 4-3/4 cents. 1894."

Cochrane's Manufacturing also produced yard goods (I imagine the 6 colors they advertised would be figures in a Turkey red background.)
 1904 Cochrane bandanna patent from the files
of the New York Public Library

The Cochrane family came to Massachusetts from Renfrewshire, Scotland in 1844. There seem to have been several Cochranes in the fabric and dyeing business in Massachusetts and I wouldn't
be surprised to find a family feud as there are records of two distinct Cochrane companies involved with Turkey red.

The John Cochranes dyed and printed cotton in the Cochrane Manufacturing Company. The Alexander Cochranes, who came to the U.S. from Scotland in 1847, owned the Cochrane Chemical Company, which "produced Turkey red dye". Turkey red is technically not a dye but a process. The Chemical Company imported synthetic alizarin, the chemical colorant used in the process.

Both families traced their ancestry to Barrhead, Scotland, a town not far from Glasgow and Paisley, centers for Turkey red printing. Turkey red bandanna printing is said to have originated in 1802 by Henry Monteith & Co of Glasgow. An 1851 book on Scotland described Barrhead as "inhabited chiefly by persons employed in the mills, bleachfields, and printfields...."

Malden, Massachusetts, early 20th century

Both Cochrane families wound up in Malden, but links between the two Cochrane branches seem invisible. 

John Cochrane II (1833 - 1916) returned to Scotland to "complete his education" between 1851 and 1854 and went into the textile business in Lynn, Massachusetts, eventually opening the mill in Malden. 

The earliest political textile with Cochrane's signature I've found is the 1880 Hancock & English bandanna.

When John Cochrane began printing Turkey red cottons is unknown. The earliest reference so far was an 1882 account by Keshav Malhar Bhat who wrote about his efforts to bring Turkey red dyeing technology to India. American dyers and printers, always secretive about their methods, refused to see him, but in 1882 he met John Cochrane,  "proprietor of Cochrane's Turkey Red and Mystic Print Works," who showed him "enough of the art to start a small dye-house in India."

Cochrane's Turkey Red Oil Color Robe Prints
A robe print, I assume, is meant for wholecloth coverlets.

Here's one from a Cochrane competitor

Cochrane also did kerchiefs and bandannas in blue.

Two more Cochrane bandannas just for fun

We missed a show at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City last year. See curator Don Reeves talking about the exhibit A Yard of Turkey Red: The Western Bandanna in this video:

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