Or is it an old-fashioned, old time trick? We all know that colour. Even if we don’t know at the time, today that colour still says something about our age. Is the colour in saffron yellow “old-fashioned” or “old-time” or what?
If saffron yellow was old enough to be an old-time trick, it was old enough to be a modern one, too. In the beginning it was the colour of money and jewellery. One of the first examples of saffron came in 1840 when Louis XIV of France gave a crown worth 150 euros to a widow who had lost her husband’s money. So “chiffon yellow” went through an evolution.
The colour’s popularity was short lived, though, as a cheapening of the colour helped with the popularity of “chiffon” (the same word for gold) as a currency. And it took off again in the 1920s when it found a new home in the colour blue.
Today saffron has become such a symbol of the French identity that the colour itself was once used as the national emblem. The French national flag was introduced in 1971 as saffron was reintroduced in the 1980s and has since appeared on the French national flag.
In fact, the colour was used as early as 1787 in a manuscript titled “The English History of France.” Saffron was used as the emblem for the French empire from 1814 until the early 1800s. It was added to the French flag and the national coat of arms in 1814 along with blue.
If saffron was an international colour, why was it never used in the modern world? The key factor was its reputation as an invader.
The English brought back saffron in the early years of the 19th century along with other European flowers for ornament, such as marigolds and roses. These flowers were introduced across Europe along with the idea of “the English beauty” (a very British notion that was quite popular at the time).
The problem with British imports that came to Britain at this time was that they probably couldn’t be grown in France. That was the case for roses and lavender (a German import), and for the marigold (which was not as well known as it is today).
Saffron was widely known to have a negative influence on English agriculture and also to contain certain dangerous, even fatal, bacteria.
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