According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase “blue in the face” means “for a long time, often to the point of complete exasperation”. Law’s Bluing and Superior Ink Company uses the meaning of the phrase on this advertising Victorian trade card to make a point about the coverage and color durability of their ink dye.
Purpose of Bluing
For those not familiar with bluing, it was added to rinse water on cotton clothes turned yellow/dull from repeated washings to give the clothes the appearance of whiter color (blue being on the opposite end of the color wheel from white). If this was one use for bluing, why was it also good for rag carpets? White carpets are hard to keep clean.
Note: many ink companies also marketed their dye, full strength, as ink for school children. In the case of the above trade card, the package makes 1 quart of ink.
You can find many more Victorian trade cards with great graphics and advertising in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.
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