30. Mauveine

Mauveine was discovered in 1856, by an eighteen year old boy named William Henry Perkin. He was trying to synthesize Quinine-the anti Malarial drug.

In one of his attempts he oxidized Aniline using Potassium Dichromate. It produced a dark colored solid-a very common product formed in any organic synthesis that had failed.

While cleaning his flask, Perkin noticed that a portion of the dark colored solid dissolved in alcohol giving a rich purple colored solution. This solution was able to dye silk and many other fabrics!

Perkin patented his dye and started manufacturing it under the name Tyrian Purple-the name of the ancient natural dye obtained from mollusk. The name Mauve was given to the color in 1859. The chemists called it Mauveine.

Mauve became highly fashionable in 1862, when Queen Victoria appeared at the Royal Exhibition in a mauve silk gown!

Mauve fell out of fashion in late 1860s. By then Perkin had made a fortune. The synthetic chemical industry was launched. Many new synthetic colors were discovered.

Mauve is one of the permitted food colors since early 20th Century.

Visalakshi Ramani


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