H. Results Obtained from the Chemical Examination of Samples of the Radzin-Tekhelet

Following Professor Friedlaender’s kind advice I addressed a sample of Radzin Tekhelet to Professor Green with a view to a chemical examination being practised upon it.

At the same time I asked him whether the dye secretion of Sepia officinalis had ever been chemically analysed, the idea occurring to me at the time that perhaps the chemical constitution of Sepia off. might include the two stuffs referred to in Professor Friedlaender’s reply. Here is the answer I received from the Leeds Professor;

Department of Tinctorial Chemistry and Dyeing.

The University, Leeds

July 30th, 1913

Isaac Herzog Esq.M.A.

29, Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Paris

Dear Sir,

We have tested the sample of wool furnished and find that it is dyed with Prussian Blue. The colouring matter has therefore no relationship whatever to the natural dyestuffs of the Mollusca. So far as I am aware the secretion of the Sepia has never been examined. It would undoubtedly form a very interesting study…

A.C. Green

The Radzin Tekhelet thus stands self-condemned, or the results of chemistry are to be questioned.

I should hesitate very much before condemning of fraud a man of the stamp of the late G.E. Leiner.

It would seem that the late Hasidic Chief was victimized by some fraudulent Italian chemist. On arriving in Italy, Leiner, as he states himself, worked hard with a view to discovering a process for the extraction of the Tekhelet dye from the Sepia off.

Attracted by Leiner’s offers of high remuneration, some clever but swindling specialist in tinctorial chemistry contrived, it would appear, to concoct Prussian dye with Sepia secretion, in such a manner as to conceal the presence of the dye.

It is the same source, I should think, which has been supplying the Radzin dyehouse with the necessary quantities of Sepia ink-bags filled with a solidified black secretion which though purporting to be the natural colouring matter is in reality nothing but an artificial compound in which the ink-like secretion of Sepia only serves to cheat the eye. It would appear that the defrauder also managed to become the sole contractor to the Tekhelet factory at Radzin.

Investigations carried out in Italy might perhaps clear up the mystery, as it is not improbable that Leiner previously to his falling into the swindler’s net had made an announcement in the Italian press offering a huge sum for the discovery of a process whereby a blue of a certain nuance might be extracted from the secretion of Sepia officinalis.

Notes by Dr. A. Dedekind.

Keeper at the Egyptian Museum of the Austrian Imperial Court, Vienna:


In the second supplement, line 9, etc. say the passage ‘What is Dr. Dedekind’s mission \ etc …

Perhaps you can point out that I submitted P. lapillus with the colors of violet, or blue marked with the word blue, although I would know very well that Purpura lapillus does not occur in the Mediterranean.

On page 33 of your second supplement you say that ‘the information provided by Dr. Germain would be in line with Jewish tradition ’- that is not right. A Talmudic message otherwise expressly states that blue as a tone is vegetable (= green); that is just a preliminary stage of a definitive purple color. The Janthina is purple from the beginning, so it has no intermediate color of green (vegetable). This means that Blue has nothing to do with Janthina, but is a purple snail. Cf. Schleiden, Das Meer (3rd edition) under purple.

Vienna, 21 May 1914

A. Dedekind.

In der zweiten Beilage Zeile 9 u.s.w. sagen Sie der Passus ‘Was Dr. Dedekind’s omission\ etc.. .

Eventuell können Sie hervorheben, dass ich P. lapillus mit in die Kategorie von den vermöge des Wortes תכלת markierten Farbenton von Violett, resp. Blau mit eingereicht habe, obwohl ich sehr wohl wüsste, dass Purpura lapillus im Mittelmeere nicht vorkommt.

Auf Seite 33 Ihrer zweiten Beilage sagen Sie, dass ‘die Auskunft von Dr. Germain sich im Einklang mit der Jüdischen Tradition befände’ -, das doch ist nicht richtig. Eine Talmudistische Nachricht sagt sonst ausdrücklich, dass תכלת als Ton ירק (= grün) sei; das ist eben ein Vorstadienten einer Fefinitiv-Purpurfarbe. Das Janthina is von allen Amfange an violett, hat also gar kein Farbenzwischenstadiums von grün (ירק). Damit ist gesagt, das תכלת mit Janthina gar Nichts zu tun hat, sondern eine Purpurschnecke ist. Cf. Schleiden, Das Meer (3. Auflage) unter purpur.

Wien, am 21 Mai 1914.

A. Dedekind.