[Histonet] Re: My bit of trivia for today - True Blue

Bob Richmond rsrichmond <@t> gmail.com
Tue Nov 8 14:27:53 CST 2011

Tim Morken notes:

>>I was listening to the Wait Wait Don't Tell Me radio show this weekend and they had to come up with the derivation of "True Blue" as a saying. Turns out it had to do with blue dye colorfastness. Later they would call it Fast Blue - but that does not convey the later meaning of the phrase..

>> 'True blue' is supposed to derive from the blue cloth that was made at Coventry, England in the late middle ages. The town's dyers had a reputation for producing material that didn't fade with washing, i.e. it remained 'fast' or 'true'. The phrase 'as true as Coventry blue' originated then and is still used (in Coventry at least). The town's standing was recorded in 1670 by John Ray in the first edition of A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs:

>>"Coventry had formerly the reputation for dying of blues; insomuch that true blue became a Proverb to signifie one that was always the same and like himself."<<
Coventry was a center of woad production and dyeing. Woad (Isatis
tinctoria) is one of several plants that contain the dye precursor
indican. Dyeing with indigo is a complex process involving oxidation
and reduction of the blue pigment. See

Coventry was of course Lady Godiva's home town. In World War 2 the
Germans bombed Coventry, destroying its ancient Anglican cathedral,
which was rebuilt after the war.

To this day the Anglican cathedral at Salisbury uses blue vestments
and altar cloths (Sarum usage - Sarum is the Latin name of Salisbury.)

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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