Mauve is a synthetic pigment that was first discovered by accident in 1856. William Henry Perkin was looking for a synthetic version of quinine when he noticed that the residue produced a stable, semi-permanent purple dye. At the time, purple dye was created by using glandular mucus produced by a type of mollusk and was quite expensive. The fact that mauve could be mass produced in an economical way meant that it quickly surpassed other purples in use. The color became so popular amongst the upper classes in Europe and America (it was a favorite of Queen Victoria and the Empress Eugenie) that the 1890s are known as the "Mauve Decade." Today the color mauve is a pale purple with some grayish hues, and it is often used in stage decorating to depict sunsets.