Saturday, 17 May 2008


Just out for a stroll today and contemplating the beautiful mauve of this late blossoming lilac.

Until comparatively recently in terms of history most dyes came from plants (see posts on nettles and ragwort). Dyes that came from animals tended to be extremely expensive. The dye that made purple came from the glandular mucus of snails. Purple was therefore a colour of wealth and privilege - in Ancient Rome only the Emperor and his household were permitted to wear purple.

Text from Internet (Scarlet Pixel)
Chance events can completely alter the course of history, and one such event took place in the Summer of 1856. A young student called William Perkin was working at The Royal College of Chemistry in London. He was trying to synthesise the drug, Quinine, from coal tar. The result of his work was a black residue - not what he wanted at all! He was on the point of discarding this residue, but he decided to add liquid to it. The solution that resulted was 'Strangely beautiful' - MAUVE had made its debut! When William Perkin further discovered that this new solution would stain cloth, this entrepreneurial young man took out a patent and contacted a dye-works with his new product.
Queen Victoria was seen wearing mauve at her daughter's wedding in 1858, mauve also became the colour sensation that women of taste had to be seen wearing in England.