Until the 1860s the Club played in light blue. The red and gold (affectionately referred to as 'egg and bacon') appear for the first time in this decade, and the Museum houses a boundary flag dating from this period which is the earliest known example of the red and gold monogram.
The colours are similar to those used as racing colours by The Duke of Richmond. One of the current Duke’s ancestors was very much involved in the early days of MCC but it is unlikely that MCC would have chosen to take on his colours some 80 years after the Club’s foundation.
It has also been suggested that MCC borrowed their colours from I Zingari whose colours were black, red and gold. This reflects their motto: "Out of darkness, through fire, into light".
I Zingari was the first and grandest of the wandering clubs to be founded in 1845. Of course many members of I Zingari would also have been members of MCC but it is doubtful if MCC - a distinguished club of almost 100 years standing, would borrow its colours from a club only a few years old - no matter how grand.
Watch: The colours of MCC
In 1866, when MCC had the chance to purchase the freehold of Lord’s Ground the money required was advanced by one the Club’s members, William Nicholson.
Without this advance it is likely that the ground would have been sold to a property developer and MCC’s future was very much in doubt.
William Nicholson continued to loan the Club substantial amounts for numerous projects over the next 30 years and was President of MCC in 1879.
William Nicholson was the owner of the Nicholson’s Gin Company, the colours of which were red and yellow.
Although no written proof has yet been found, it is thought that the adoption of the red and gold was MCC’s personal thank you to William Nicholson for his services to the club - sport’s first corporate sponsorship deal perhaps?
Of course in Victorian England such commercial deals would have been frowned upon but there is a strong possibility that the adoption of these colours would have been a nice way of acknowledging Nicholson’s huge contribution towards assuring the future of MCC.
Whatever their origin there is no doubt that the colours of MCC are among the most famous club colours and are instantly recognised across the sporting world.