John Mercer (1791-1866) worked in his father's cotton mill in Lancaster, England, and, through a fellow worker, learned to read and write when he was ten years old. John's primary interest, which had been music, changed to the art of dyeing and, because he was a handloom weaver, he worked on and invented devices that wove stripes and checks. A story that was current in young Mercer's time was that Mercer went to another town to obtain a marriage license, but while browsing at a bookstall came across James Parkinson's Chemical Pocket-book. Merely from a reading of this book, Mercer got a job as a chemist to make calico prints at a fabric printshop. Mercer wa so talented with fabrics that he was eventually admitted to partnership in the business. After thirty years the partnership was dissolved, freeing Mercer to continue his experiments. In 1850, at the age of fifty-nine, he perfected a process for treating cottons with caustic soda, sulphuric acid, and zinc chloride, which shrinks, strengthens, and gives a permanent silky luster to the fabric. Furthermore, cloth so treated made the fabric more absorbent so that it held dyes more readily.
   Mercer's process was not so successful as it might have been, however, because of the shrinkage of the fabric. He had overlooked the treating of the material under tension. Long after his death, a correction was made, and the shrinkage was virtually eliminated. But Mercer's name remained as the inventor of the treatment process. Today we say that cotton goods have been mercerized, or that we have bought a spool of mercerized cotton.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mercerize — Mer cer*ize, v. t. [imp. & p. p. { ized}; p. pr. & vb. n. { izing}.] [From (John) Mercer (1791 1866), an English calico printer who introduced the process + ize.] To treat (cotton fiber or fabrics) with a solution of caustic alkali. Such… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mercerize — (Amer.) mer·cer·ize || mÉœrsÉ™raɪz / mɜːs v. (Textile) chemically treat fibers to strengthen them and improve their luster and color qualities (also mercerise) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • mercerize — [mʉr′sər īz΄] vt. mercerized, mercerizing [after J. Mercer (1791 1866), Eng calico dealer] to treat (cotton thread or fabric) under tension with a caustic soda solution in order to strengthen it, give it a silky luster, and make it more receptive …   English World dictionary

  • mercerize — transitive verb ( ized; izing) Etymology: John Mercer died 1866 English calico printer Date: 1852 to give (as cotton yarn) luster, strength, and receptiveness to dyes by treatment under tension with caustic soda • mercerization noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • mercerize — mercerization, n. mercerizer, n. /merr seuh ruyz /, v.t., mercerized, mercerizing. to treat (cotton yarns or fabric) with caustic alkali under tension, in order to increase strength, luster, and affinity for dye. Also, esp. Brit., mercerise.… …   Universalium

  • mercerize — verb To treat cotton fabric with sodium hydroxide to make it more lustrous and accepting of dyes …   Wiktionary

  • mercerize — or mercerise verb [often as adjective mercerized] treat (cotton fabric or thread) under tension with caustic alkali to impart strength and lustre. Origin C19: from John Mercer, said to have invented the process, + ize …   English new terms dictionary

  • mercerize — mer·cer·ize …   English syllables

  • mercerize — mer•cer•ize [[t]ˈmɜr səˌraɪz[/t]] v. t. ized, iz•ing tex to treat (cotton yarns or fabric) with caustic alkali under tension, in order to increase strength, luster, and affinity for dye • Etymology: 1855–60; after John Mercer (1791–1866), English …   From formal English to slang

  • mercerize — (also ise) treat (cotton fabric or thread) under tension with caustic alkali to give greater strength and impart lustre. Etymology: J. Mercer, alleged inventor of the process d. 1866 …   Useful english dictionary

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