Then one scientist after another began to find out what could be made from these troublesome substances. It was a great mistake to think of them as worthless. Many things once very costly could be made cheaply and in plenty from these coal wastes. Let us take one example out of hundreds.
Purple was once a truly royal color. Purple dye was so costly that only the rich and great would wear things colored purple. Now anybody can wear purple. A purple dye was the first dye made from coal tar.
Not purple dyes alone, but dyes of every color of the rainbow can be made from it. Not dyes alone, but perfumes, drugs, gas for cooking, fertilizers, explosives, artificial amber, and even fine silklike stockings, and a thousand other things can be made from coal wastes. The coke-makers had been letting fortunes slip away from them into the streams and the air!
Coal has made our life richer in hundreds of ways. Ours is not a coal-forming age, but it is the greatest coal-using age the world has ever known. Ours, too, might well be called the Great Coal Age.