Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reckitt's Blue, Bag Blue, Paris Blue, Crown Blue, Laundry Blue, Dolly Bags,

The best Method of making and using Starch

Moisten the quantity of starch you want to use, according to the quantity of your cloaths, with water, and put as much stone blue as is necessary. When the starch and blue are properly mixed, then let the whole boil together a quarter of an hour longer, taking care to keep stirring it, because that makes it much stiffer and is better for the linen. Such things as you would have most stiff, ought to be put first into the water, and you may weaken the starch by pouring a little water upon it. Starch ought to be boiled in a copper vessel, because it requires much boiling, and tin is apt to make it burn. Some people mix their starch with allom, or gum arabic, nothing is so good as isinglass, and an ounce of it is sufficient to a quarter of the pound.

Amelia Chambers, The ladies best companion; or, a golden treasure for the fair sex (1775)

In Elizabethan and Jacobean England, starch was sometimes mixed with other colours, to tint ruffs and collars according to fashion. (Cream lace, tinted with yellow, was in vogue for some of the 17th century.) Blue starch was out of favour for a time, after Queen Elizabeth banned its use in London in 1595, when extreme blue ruff fashion seems to have become associated with immorality, but soon the manufacture of "smalt or blue starch" was once again approved by Parliament as a means of setting "many poor people a-work", and it continued as a basic household essential for centuries.

Her Majesty's pleasure is that no blue starch shall be used or worn by any of her Majesty's subjects


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