Natural tannins from various plants have been used throughout human history in textile dyeing, often as mordant dyes. The ageing behavior of these dyes is a challenge in conservation science, requiring a thorough knowledge of the textile–mordant-dye system. In this work, we analyzed reference wool yarns dyed with natural tannins from oak gallnuts, walnut (Juglans regia
), and catechu (Acacia catechu
), after artificial ageing. To gain insights on the composition of the dyestuffs and on how they aged, an analytical procedure based on extraction with Na2
EDTA/DMF (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid/dimethylformamide) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis using high-resolution mass spectrometry detection was used. Since conventional reversed-phase (RP) columns usually show poor retention efficiency of highly polar compounds such as tannins, an RP-amide embedded polar group stationary phase was used to achieve optimal retention of the most polar compounds. Tannins from oak gallnuts showed little degradation after ageing, while a significant increase in the content of hydroxybenzoic acids was observed for tannins from walnut and catechu. Finally, the analytical procedure was applied to characterize the tannin dyes in historical tapestries from the 15th
century, and the results were discussed in comparison with the reference yarns.
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