Cobalt was used for centuries to impart a blue color to glazes and ceramics before it was isolated by Swedish chemist Georg Brandt around 1735.
"In the afternoon when the sun lights the stucco buildings across the street, it's possible to count a dozen different colors of paint, all fading together on the highest parts of the wall: yellow, ochre, brick, blood, cobalt, turquoise." -- From Barbara Kingsolver's 2009 novel The Lacuna
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The metallic element "cobalt" ultimately draws its name from folklore. In Middle High German, "kobolt" denoted a usually helpful household elf that engaged in nasty pranks only when it was offended. Later, early Modern German "Kobold" came to refer to a variety of less helpful goblins inhabiting fields and mountains. The variant "Kobolt" in the 16th century was applied by German miners to ores containing the metal cobalt, which they considered to be worthless; they believed that mountain goblins had spoiled adjacent silver ores, or had stolen the silver within the ore. The metal itself in relatively pure form was not produced and described until the 17th century, when "cobalt," with its first letter influenced by New Latin "cobaltum," became part of the international language of science.
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