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Pure and Applied Chemistry

The Scientific Journal of IUPAC

Ed. by Burrows, Hugh / Stohner, Jürgen

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Volume 90, Issue 3


The molecules of color in Portuguese postage stamps (1857–1909)

Catarina Pinto / J. Sérgio Seixas de Melo
Published Online: 2017-10-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pac-2017-0701


The nature of the pigments or dyes used to dye the first Portuguese postage stamps has remained unknown until now. In this work, a study has been made of the inks used for red, rose, purple and orange colors in a selected number of Portuguese postage stamps from the period 1857 to 1909. This is based on analysis involving a variety of techniques (X-ray fluorescence, UV-Vis spectroscopy, HPLC-MS/HPLC-DAD, steady and time resolved fluorescence). It was found that the inks included, among others, the inorganic pigments cinnabar (HgS), lead oxide (Pb3O4) and chromate (PbCrO4), lead sulphide (PbS), and the organic compounds carminic acid and Eosin Y. The study demonstrated a non-destructive analysis method for identification of two molecules of color involving the UV-Vis (for carminic acid and Eosin Y) and fluorescence spectra, together with quantum yields and lifetimes (for Eosin Y).

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: carminic acid; ChemCultHerit; dyes & pigments; Eosin Y; fluorescence; HgS; HPLC-DAD-MS; postage stamps; UV-Vis absorption

Article note:

A special issue containing invited papers on Chemistry and Cultural Heritage (M.J. Melo, A. Nevin and P. Baglioni, editors).


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About the article

Received: 2017-07-01

Accepted: 2017-09-18

Published Online: 2017-10-12

Published in Print: 2018-02-23

Citation Information: Pure and Applied Chemistry, Volume 90, Issue 3, Pages 435–445, ISSN (Online) 1365-3075, ISSN (Print) 0033-4545, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pac-2017-0701.

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©2018 IUPAC & De Gruyter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information, please visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.Get Permission

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