The Search for Turkish Rouge

No sooner had I declared that the cosmetics industry couldn’t be counted on for historical accuracy, than I thought to myself that while that might be true of the industry itself, there are probably people out there who are interested in the historical accuracy of their cosmetics. After all, there is a slew of historical movies made every year, and I’m sure those makeup artists take their work very seriously. So, I set out to find such people.

It didn’t take long to come across the very friendly and helpful people on the EarlyPerfume Yahoo group. They not only knew what Turkish Rouge is, but how to make it (three different recipes!) and one of them even sold me a small packet of the key ingredient, Alkanet. Now, alkanet is the root of a plant, commonly known as Dyer’s Bugloss, and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t changed its root colour too much in the past 100 or so years.

So, all I had to do was to make some Turkish Rouge and then try to match it in paint. At the start, the root gave a very pretty pink colour, which I refuse to apply to any model I ever build. However, after a day, it’s now getting quite intensely red. By varying the depth of the container, I can get colours from the jolly pinky red shown here to a deep carmine and ultimately black.

There was an alarming shift from the orange side of red toward cerise when I brought it out of the halogen lights in the kitchen and into the daylight fluorescent down here in the train room. I see it has shifted again with the camera and my monitor. Meanwhile, the paint chips didn’t move nearly as much.

Oh what to do? And all this is because some reporter back in the late 19th Century chose “turkish rouge” to describe a new engine colour. We all know how reliable those chaps were. What if he was colour blind?

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