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!

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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