What is the significance of "blue paper"? In the movie "Gangs of New York", when Bill the Butcher in his "Fear" monologue speaks about Priest Vallon, he states that he, "… cut out the eye that looked away. Sent it wrapped to him in blue paper…"


2 Answers 2


Bill the Butcher wasn't called that just because of his ruthless demeanor and murderous tendencies. He was also a literal butcher.

Butcher Paper has long been used by butchers to wrap meat and other animal parts. Given the context of the speech, he likely wrapped the eye in butcher paper because he had a lot of it just laying around for his business. It probably also served as a thinly veiled threat to Priest Vallon that this low-life butcher he just spared was going to kill him which is ultimately what happened.

  • Really this answer is no better than BCdotWEB's. It is still speculation. Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 16:03
  • 2
    @JasonPSallinger I'm not sure there can be anything other than speculation, but at least this answer mentions what butcher paper is and why someone like Bill the Butcher would use it.
    – DeeV
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 17:26
  • However butcher paper is traditionally white or brown. Blue is more usual for disposable hand towels, although I doubt that would be available in the time period. Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 17:50
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    Google, for example "sugar cone blue paper", Not butcher's paper per se, but blue dye for cheap product wrapping is well-attested.
    – Yorik
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 21:13

I found this in Lexico, which is powered by the Oxford Dictionary:

Definition of blue paper in English:

blue paper NOUN

  1. Blue-coloured paper, typically used for packaging commercial goods, especially sugar; a sheet of this (now chiefly historical).

  2. A light-sensitive paper used for copying maps and plans, typically made by treating the paper with potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate; compare "cyanotype"(now rare).

We can reason out #2, and deduce he is talking about a commercial packaging paper based on the content. It's merely a colorful, descriptive way of saying he wrapped it up in packing paper.

  • This is not speculation. This is a bona fide answer. Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 12:48

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