What follows is a list of essentially all discussions of this point that I have found in print. If you can supply any information on the subject, please let me know, at this address: email@example.com
6. Scarlet when worn by fox-hunters; a scarlet hunting coat, or the cloth of which it is made.
1834 DISRAELI Corr. w. Sister 15 Feb., Although not in pink, [I] was the best mounted man in the field. 1860 R. E. WARBURTON Hunt. Songs 1. (1883) 143 A sect..Who blindly follow, clad in coats of pink, A beast whose nature is to run and stink. 1861 HUGHES Tom Brown at Oxf. They are the hunting set, and come in with pea-coats over their pinks. 1889 Daily News 12 nov. 5/2 Scarlet, conventionally known as `pink', will, he trusts, last as long as fox-hunting. 1900 Ibid. 24 Feb. 6/7 A short coat in hunting pink.
b. transf. A man in `pink'; a fox-hunter.
1828 Sporting Mag. XXI. 323. Even in the strictest College a pink could unmolested walk across the Court. 1849 SHAIRP, in W. Knight Shairp & Friends (1888) 44, I see the pinks flocking out to the `meets'. 1869 E. FARMER Scrap Bk. (ed. 6) 91 Pinks call for their second [horse] to finish the run.
2. Applied to the colour of a hunting-coat; see A.6.
1857 TROLLOPE Barchester T. xxii, He.. could not be persuaded to take his pink coat out of the press, or his hunters out of the stable.
For as soon as you don pink (really scarlet but called pink for a tailor who was famous for his hunting toggery) you are a marked man.
The reason for the ``Pink'' coat is that a tailor by the name of Pink was the original designer and maker.
The word ``pink'' does not refer to the color of the coat but is a term applied to the state of being formally attired for hunting. It is thought to have had its origin in a tailor by the name of Pink who, in the old days, is supposed to have made the most perfect attire for hunting.
These coats are called ``pink'' coats, after a famous tailor named Pinke.And, in a 1963 edition of a work first published in 1949 (the earlier edition of which I have not seen), The Horseman's Encyclopedia (A. S. Barnes and Company, New York, 1963), page 261:
These are commonly called ``pink'' but not because of their color. A famous London tailor named ``Pink'' or ``Pinke'' gave his name to the hunting coat and they have been called ``pinks'' ever since.
Etymology: Variously ascribed to the `pink' colour of a faded old hunting coat or, without any basis of fact, to the supposed name of a hunting tailer, called `Mr. Pink.'
Red was known sometimes as red, usually as scarlet, and very occasionally as pink. (Cook, in 1826, is one of the first to refer to pink; he does so once or twice as a change from scarlet; this is true of `Nimrod' into the 1840s, Surtees into the 1860s, Sidney into the 1870s. Scarlet remained the normal word into the last quarter of the century. The origin of `pink' is obscure enough; its elevation into shibboleth is baffling. There was no leading tailor of the name -- to dispose of a frequent explanation -- in London or any hunting centre.)In a letter dated 22 April 1993, Longrigg expands on the last two sentences: use of ``pink'' in speech has been a snobby social class marker (similar to the ones given in Mitford's Noblesse Oblige but for a slightly different social stratum). ``Tailoring is a trade as well documented as cabinet making,'' and if there were a tailor Pink, Longrigg's search would have turned up some documentary record.
``Did you know that's not actually pink?'' Carole asked.
``Sure, they're red,'' Stevie said. ``I still don't know why they're called pink, though.''
``It's P-i-n-q-u-e,'' Carole said, spelling it out. ``It doesn't have anything to do with the color. Pinque was the tailor who designed it.''
According to a letter dated 6 August 1993, Bryant learned the story -- including spelling -- by word of mouth in about 1959 or 1960.
Why is there almost a century's gap between the first use of the word ``pink'' for the color of a red hunting coat and the first appearance of the tailor Pink story? Why did the tailor Pink story appear in America decades before it appeared in England? And why does the word ``pink'' appear in lower case (at least in the 19th century) when eponymous words such as ``Wellington,'' ``Blücher,'' ``Stetson,'' ``Levi's'' and so on are usually capitalized in English?
Jim Reeds firstname.lastname@example.org