Pale yellow-brown colour of the un-dyed leather of several animals
- 1 Etymology
- 2 In nature
- 3 In culture
- 3.1 Architecture
- 3.2 Stationery and art
- 3.3 Artificial selection
- 3.4 Clothing
- 3.5 U.S. Army
- 3.6 U.S. universities, fraternities and schools
- 3.7 U.S. state flags
- 3.8 Political usage
- 3.9 White Star buff
- 3.10 In Canadian heraldry
- 4 See also
- 5 References
|HSV (h, s, v)||(28°, 50%, 85%)|
|sRGBB (r, g, b)||(218, 160, 109)|
|Source||Maerz and Paul|
|ISCC–NBS descriptor||Moderate orange yellow|
|B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)|
H: Normalized to [0–100] (hundred)
Buff (latin bubalinus) is a light brownish yellow, ochreous colour, typical of buff leather. Buff is a mixture of yellow ocher and white: two parts of white lead and one part of yellow ocher produces a good buff, or white lead may be tinted with French ochre alone.
The first recorded use of the word buff to describe a colour was in The London Gazette of 1686, describing a uniform to be "...a Red Coat with a Buff-colour'd lining". It referred to the colour of undyed buffalo leather, such as soldiers wore as some protection: an eyewitness to the death in the Battle of Edgehill (1642) of Sir Edmund Verney noted "he would neither put on arms [armour] or buff coat the day of the battle". Such buff leather was suitable for buffing or serving as a buffer between polished objects. It is not clear which bovine "buffalo" referred to, but it may not have been any of the animals called "buffalo" today.
The word buff meaning "enthusiast" or "expert" (US English) derives from the colour "buff", specifically from the buff-coloured uniform facings of 19th-century New York City volunteer firemen, who inspired partisan followers among particularly keen fire watchers.
"In the buff", today meaning naked, originally applied to English soldiers wearing the buff leather tunic that was their uniform until the 17th century. The "naked" signification is due to the perception that (English) skin is buff-coloured.
Sand, rock, and loess tend to be buff in many areas.
Buff rock at the top of a cliff
Because buff is effective in camouflage, it is often naturally selected.
Buff bands on a snake
A moth with buff wingtips (Phalera bucephala)
The buff wingtips of this moth aid in camouflage.
Many species are named for their buff markings, including the buff arches moth, the buff-bellied climbing mouse, and at least sixty birds, including the buff-fronted quail-dove, the buff-vented bulbul, and the buff-spotted flufftail.
In areas where buff raw materials are available, buff walls and buildings may be found. Cotswold stone is an example of such a material.
Traditional buff stone buildings
Modern buff brick buildings (centre)
Stationery and art
Buff paper is sometimes favoured by artists seeking a neutral background colour for drawings, especially those featuring the colour white.
Red and white chalk portrait on buff paper
Black chalk with brown wash, heightened with white on buff paper
Graphite drawing with watercolour wash on buff paper
Buff domesticated animals and plants have been created, including dogs, cats, and poultry. The word buff is used in written standards of several breeds, and some, such as the Buff turkey, are specifically named "buff".
A buff gun dog
A buff mousing cat
A buff chicken
In 16th- and 17th-century European cultures, buff waistcoats ("vests" in American English), were considered proper casual wear. In the 17th century, the traditional colour of formal dress boot uppers was often described as "buff".
17th-century English musician wearing a buff waistcoat
17th-century Italian nobleman wearing buff dress boot uppers
Clothing depicted on John Bull, a national personification of Britain in general and England in particular, in political cartoons and similar graphic works, has often been buff coloured. Bull's buff waistcoats, topcoats, trousers and boot uppers were typical of 16th- and 17th-century Englishmen.
Early depiction of John Bull with the buff clothing typical of a 16th-century Englishman
John Bull wearing buff dress boot uppers
John Bull wearing buff trousers
17th-century military uniforms
Buff is a traditional European military uniform colour. Buff has good camouflage qualities as sand, soil, and dry vegetation are buff in many areas. The term buff coat refers to a part of 17th-century European military uniforms. Such coats were intended to protect the wearer, and the strongest and finest leathers tend to be buff, so the term "buff coats" came to refer to all such coats, even if the colour varied.
Buff German uniforms
Dry vegetation in Europe
The British army
The Royal East Kent Regiment was nicknamed "The Buffs" from the colour of their waistcoats. The phrase "Steady the Buffs!", popularised by Rudyard Kipling in his 1888 work Soldiers Three, has its origins during 2nd Battalion's garrison duties in Malta. Adjutant Cotter, not wanting to be shown up in front of his former regiment, the 21st Royal (North British) Fusiliers, spurred his men on with the words: "Steady, the Buffs! The Fusiliers are watching you."
Soldier of The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) wearing "a new Red Coat lin'd with a Buff colour'd lining, .... Breeches of the same colour as the Coat lining."
Buff is the traditional colour of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps.
Continental Army uniforms: "The Buff and Blue"
US chevron - quartermaster sergeant insignia (1902-1909) buff on black with blue detail.
USAIH illustration which specifies "a buff colored vertical rectangular embroidered item"
U.S. universities, fraternities and schools
The colours of George Washington University and Hamilton College are buff and blue, modelled on the military uniform of General George Washington and the Continental Army. Both General Washington and Alexander Hamilton, as chief of staff, had a role in the design of the uniforms.
General Washington wearing the buff and blue
George Washington University banners featuring the buff and blue
The buff and blue logo of the George Washington University Colonials
U.S. state flags
The flag of Delaware includes "a background of colonial blue surrounding a diamond of buff" The flag of New Jersey has "the State seal ... in Jersey blue on a buff background" Former flag of New York (until 1901) The 1901 Maine Flag flown from 1901 to 1909
Depiction of the Whig Charles James Fox wearing buff and blue
White Star buff
The funnels of the RMS Titanic and all other ships of the White Star Line were designated to be "buff with a black top" in order to indicate their ownership. There is some uncertainty among experts, however, as to the exact shade of what is now called "White Star buff". There is no surviving paint or formula, and although there are many painted postcards and at least seven colour photographs of White Star liners, the shades of the funnels in these varies due to many factors including the conditions under which they were originally made and the ageing of the pigments in which they were printed. Speaking mostly to scale modellers, the Titanic Research and Modelling Association currently recommend a colour "in the range of the Marschall color", meaning the colour in illustrations in a particular book.
As a relatively inexpensive and readily available paint colour, and one which went well alongside the near-universal black hull and white superstructure used on steamships at the time, White Star was far from the only shipping line to use a shade of buff as a funnel colour. The Orient Line and Norddeutscher Lloyd used an entirely buff funnel without the black top, while Canadian Pacific and the Swedish American Line employed a buff funnel with a representation of the company's house flag on them. The Bibby Line and the Fyffes Line are two of several firms to use the same "buff with a black top" scheme as White Star, but with a similar lack of certainty as to the exact shade used and how this differed from the famous White Star scheme.
Ships of the White Star Line, such as the RMS Oceanic pictured here, and the Titanic, had buff funnels with black tops.
In Canadian heraldry
As well as being a colour used by the United States Army Institute of Heraldry, buff is also recognised as a tincture by the Canadian Heraldic Authority. It appears on the heraldic badge and flag of the Correctional Service of Canada.
- "Convertor from RYB to RGB". PaintAssistant. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2012. RGB approximations of RYB tertiary colours, using cubic interpolation. The colours displayed here are substantially paler than the true colours a mixture of paints would produce.
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- R. Ridgway. A nomenclature of colors for naturalists - and compendium of useful knowledge for ornithologists. 1886.
- "buff, adj.1". Oxford English Dictionary. OUP. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- St. Clair, Kassia (2016). The Secret Lives of Colour. London: John Murray. p. 242–243. ISBN 9781473630819. OCLC 936144129.
- Miriam Slater, Family Life in the Seventeenth Century: the Verneys of Claydon House 1984:11.
- Carlton, Charles (2002). Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars 1638-1651. London and New York: Routledge. p. 192. ISBN 9781134849352 – via Google Books.
- Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology: The Origins of American English Words. New York: Harper Collins. p. 90. ISBN 0-06-270084-7.
- Robert W. Masters "What is a Fire Buff?", Pictorial History of Firefighting, revised edition, 1967; Steve Hanson, "Fire buffs: who are they?".
- "The meaning and origin of the expression: In the buff". The Phrase Finder.
- Taylor, Miles (2006) . "Bull, John (supp. fl. 1712–)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/68195. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "John Bull Running". Sterling Times. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion," Metropolitan Museum of Art (2006), exhibition brochure, p. 2.
- Matthews, Stella (February 2000). "The Search for John Bull". "Best of British" Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 June 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
while the figure with which we're most familiar, the portly one resplendent in top hat, top boots, buff-coloured trousers, swallow-tailed coat, and sporting the British flag on his waistcoat, was the work of Sir Carruthers Gould as depicted in the Westminster Gazette in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- "John Bull and His Bulldog". Gold Posters. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) - Famous Units - Research - National Army Museum, London".
- The TRMA recommend the colour on found on "pp. 54, 60-61, and 67 of the new book Art of Titanic", presumably Ken Marschall's Art of Titanic 978-0786864553.
- Braunschweiger, TRMA, Art. "White Star Buff: Weighing the Evidence". Titanic Research and Modeling Association (TRMA). Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
An earlier version of this article appeared on the TRMA website in October 2004 under the title "Photographic and Illustrative Evidence of White Star Buff." In December 2004, the article was rewritten under its present title to reflect new evidence and new debate on the subject since the writing of the original article.
- General, The Office of the Secretary to the Governor. "Correctional Service of Canada [Civil Institution]". reg.gg.ca.