Cupid laid by his brand a fell a sleepe, A maide of Dyans this aduantage found, And his loue-kindling fire did quickle steepe In a could vallie-fountaine of that ground : Which borrowd from this holie fire of loue, a deteless liuely heat still to indure, And grew a seething bath which yet men proue, Against strang malladies a foueraigne cure: But as my mistres eie loues brand new fired, The boy for triall needes would touch my brest, I sick withall the helpe of bath desired, And thether hied a sad distemperd guest. But found no cure, the bath for my helpe lies, Where Cupid got new fire; my mistres eye.
I noticed recently that Dickens habitually wrote "bran new." I assumed on his authority that this must be more authentic but when I looked it up I found that the accepted origin is as in "fresh from the fire," like a flaming brand. It probably has its origin in iron working. For a time in the 19th and early 20th centuries the "bran" spelling was fashionable but it distorts the word's lineage.
spotted 'bran new' in the examples listed for 'biffin'. Looked up 'bran new' and it goes back to a 1675 dictionary "A copius English and Netherdutch dictionary..." http://books.google.ca/books?id=835FAAAAcAAJ under the definition of 'Spick Spelder Nieuw' Spick Spelder reminds me of Spic and Span.
in other dictionaries around this time 'Brand new' is listed as well.