[Tig] Color Standards and Color Nomenclature

Rob Lingelbach rob at colorist.org
Sat Jun 2 08:32:25 BST 2012

A hundred years ago, the scientist/ornithologist Robert Ridgway printed his exhaustive work titled "Color Standards and Color Nomenclature."  

I've been interested in the semantics of color names and their history.  I came across the Ridgway book by chance today, while watching the PBS program "Antiques Roadshow", where a supplicant presented it for valuation.  The example shown was in good condition, and the appraiser commented on its history (1912): Ridgway printed the work himself in an edition of 500; the book was the result of years of analysis, and was intended to point out the need for a standardization of color names. 

It came with color plates of chip sequences that, in this copy, were in perfect (unfaded) condition.  The sequences for each hue included white, gray, and black chips for reference.

The book is available on Google Books for free (login required for download) but this version is scanned in black and white.  
The plates I saw in the book being valued were in much better shape than the single color plate that Google Books has as a sample.


(I hope that URL doesn't break in your mail reader; alternatively you can do an author search on books.google.com )

A full scan of all the color plates, or a relatively pristine copy of the actual book, will be necessary to understand the nomenclature Ridgway proposed for his Standard.  For now, there's some fascination with the names presented, like:

Dusty Auricula Purple
King's Blue
Methyl Blue
Dusky Drab
Kronberg's Green
Payne's Gray

(It may seem that one has only to conjure up a color that hasn't been claimed yet, and apply one's name to it, like a sandwich at the corner deli)

The auctioneer's estimate for the presented volume was US$850-1000. 

(There is a 1640-name Color Picker on the TIG wiki:
...it includes a port of code for the wiki that was itself derived from two other sources.)

Rob Lingelbach  http://rob.colorist.org
TIG founder/admin  Colorist

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