This section lists widely accepted color order systems with atlases that give

precise color standards, as well as often-cited references that provide collections of

printed color samples for matching plant materials, textiles, and building materials,

and books that describe or explain systems. The well-known methods of

communicating color include the Munsell and Ostwald systems and the Pantone®

Matching System now in universal use in graphic arts.

Books on color systems keyed to four-color printing that specify CMYK

percentages (by Hickethier or Kueppers, for example,) are to be found in the

Graphic and Visual Communication section, listed under Color Reproduction and

Printing Technology (431- 441). Books that present various combinations of color

samples and practical guides for mixing and matching colors using CMYK

percentages are listed under Design Guides to Color Combinations (442 - 449) in

the same section. Books on theoretical color order systems for informed paint

mixing are found in the section General Color Theory and Practice, listed under

Color Guides and Paint-Mixing Systems (207 - 219).

85. Birren, Faber. A Grammar of Color: A Basic Treatise on the Color System

of Albert H. Munsell. New York: Reinhold, 1969. 96 pp. Bibl., B/W

illus., color illus.

    Birren attempts to present a simplified summary of the Munsell color

system and includes an edited version of the 1921 edition of Munsell’s A

Grammar of Color, but his repetitious rendering lacks clarity and

unnecessarily confuses the reader. A careful reading of the primary source,

Munsell’s A Color Notation (12th ed., 1971), is preferable to Birren’s

discussion of color harmony and color notation based on the Munsell


86. The British Colour Council Dictionary of Colours for Interior Decoration. 3

vols. London: British Colour Council, 1949. Color illus.

    This pioneering effort to create color standards for business and

industry during the depression of the 1930s was interrupted by World War

II and not completed until 1949. In the foreword John Glass acknowledges

it as the work of BCC art director Robert Francis Wilson. This unique

work shows 378 colors arranged in spectral order in three ways: as matte

paint chips, as glossy paint chips, and as pile fabric. 131 colors chosen as

suitable for interior design industries were selected from the 220 colors of

the 1934 BCC color standard for textiles and apparel. Colors representing

great historical periods were added in consultation with experts at the British

Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Wallace Collection, and Temple

Newsom. The text presents a fascinating, though undocumented,

compilation of color history and color lore. The third volume’s 34 pages

discuss color names, color matching, and juxtaposition of colors, which is

Wilson’s term for simultaneous contrast.

87. The British Colour Council Dictionary of Colour Standards. 2nd rev. ed.

London: British Colour Council, 1951. 58 pp. Color illus.

    First issued in 1934, this color dictionary combines a color name

text and a companion atlas of mounted samples. Intended to standardize

colors and color names for industrial use, it is coordinated to the BCC

Dictionary of Colours for Interior Design (1949). This 1951 edition has 20

additional colors that meet practical criteria of color fastness and end use.

The text volume lists color names and gives some historic uses and

background. The atlas consists of 12 accordian-folded leaves. Mounted on

each leaf are 20 woven, heavy silk ribbons with both shiny and ribbed

bands that show how surface texture affects the appearance of the 240

individual colors. This dictionary provides an interesting document of mid-

20th-century color usage in business and industry. Curiously, dye

formulas for replicating the colors are lacking.

88. Container Corporation of America. Color Harmony Manual. Chicago,

1958. Variously paginated. B/W illus., color illus.

    This manual presents the Ostwald system and contains 949 color

chips in 30 hue triangle charts, two near gray charts, a pastel chart, a gray

scale, and the Ostwald hue circle. A 49-page text explains the system, the

gray scale, hue circle, and the notation triangles. The text also outlines how

to use the manual to achieve color harmonies and addresses technical issues

such as materials and light reflectance (a table lists reflection factors). A

“Descriptive Color Names Dictionary” lists color names and specifies the

appropriate color from the 1948 edition of the manual. The 1958 system is

out of print.

89. Eiseman, Leatrice, and Lawrence Herbert. The Pantone®

Book of Color. Over I 000 Color Standards. Color Basics and

Guidelines for Design, Fashion, Furnishings. . .and More.

New York: Abrams, 1990. 160 pp. Index, glossary, B/W illus., color

illus. ISBN 0-8109-3711-5.

    Various Pantone® Matching Systems are used for specifying colors

for graphic design, printing, textiles, apparel, home furnishing, and in

interior and architectural design. The publication of the colors in this book

format is especially useful now that Pantone® is the color communication

standard of choice in the electronic environment as well. The text by

Leatrice Eiseman includes basic color terminology, color concepts, and

color mixing principles, and proposes general guidelines for combining

colors in varying contexts in reference to a traditional 12-hue color circle. A

list of positive and negative word associations for 38 colors and a color

name index are provided, although undocumented. The 31-page text is

followed by color samples attributed to Lawrence Herbert. Each of the

1,024 color swatches on 127 pages is identified by number and by name in

English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Curiously,

information on organization of the Pantone® cylinder is lacking here. For a

b/w diagram that shows the cylinder with 64 hues and 10 reflectance levels

see the Pantone ® Professional Color System; Color Guide for

Architecture, Interiors, Fashion and Beauty (1989).

90. Gloag, H. L. and Mary J. Gold Colour Co-ordination Handbook.

London: Her Majesty`s Stationery Office, 91978. 48 pp. Appendices, B/W

illus., color illus. ISBN 0- l 1-670550-7.

    Developed by a nine member panel of architects and designers, the

highly readable introduction describes in four languages how the British

Standards Institute selects colors for building materials. The handsome

plates, typography, and layout complement the well documented text which

explains how the Munsell color system was modified for the British

Standard and adapted to British needs, why additional hues were added,

and other refinements. The color samples are published separately as color

fans. The foreword by J. B. Dick points out the importance of the

handbook as a document of color usage in architecture in the United


91. Hesselgren, Sven. HesseIgren’s  Color Atlas. Stockholm, Sweden: 1952.

    This general purpose color system, by the author of The Language

of Architecture, features an atlas with 507 color samples on 26 charts.

92. Higgins Ink Co. Color Digest. Brooklyn: 1953. 39 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    This book contains easy-to-understand explanations of color

physics, light reflectance, color psychology, and additive and subtractive

color mixing, but its main feature is a concise yet detailed description of the

Ostwald color system. It presents the color wheel in terms of the 24-color

Ostwald circle, which can be matched by Higgins Ink Company inks that

approximate Ostwald hue standards. The reader is instructed to use Higgins

drawing inks to color in the diagrams on   paper bound into the book,

which can be assembled into a three-dimensional “Higgins Ostwald Solid.”

The clear, concise presentation of the Ostwald color system makes this a

good second-choice reference when Jacobson’s Basic Color (1948) is not


93. ISCC-NBS Color-Name Charts Illustrated with Centroid Colors.

Washington, DC: National Bureau of Standards, 1965. 20 pp. Color illus.

    This chart is an essential supplement to NBS Circular 553, The

ISCC -NBS Method of Designating Colors and a Dictionary of Color Names

(1965) by Kenneth Kelly and Deane Judd. The brief introductory

information includes a chronology of the color-name project from 1921 to

1958 and the ISCC-NBS color designators and Munsell re-notations for the

color chips as approximations of the Centroid colors. The chart consists of

267 color chips organized into 18 hue families by value and chroma. Chips

for each hue family are mounted on a separate page that grades from light to

dark gray, so that colors appear on a background of related lightness.

94. Jacobson, Egbert. Basic Color: An Interpretation of the

Ostwald Color System. Chicago: Paul Theobald, 1948. 207 pp.Bibl.,

B/W illus., color illus.

    This well-illustrated book offers a definitive explanation of the

Ostwald color system by Egbert Jacobson, who, along with Walter

Granville and Carl Foss, produced the Ostwald system for the Container

Corporation of America. Readers at all levels will find the writing

interesting and accessible. An introduction to Ostwald’s 24 hue circle is

followed by a detailed, step-by-step discussion of color harmony using the

system. The essentials of color science, color vision, and the basics of

color interaction are also addressed. A unique feature is a section which

analyzes and diagrams the colors in 12 paintings using the Ostwald color

system. This book’s usefulness is not lessened by its 1948 publication

date; neither the information nor the style are dated.

95. Kelly, Kenneth L., and Deane B. Judd. Color: Universal Language and

Dictionary of Names. Washington, DC: GPO, 1976. 158 pp.

Endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus., color illus.

    The ISCC-NBS Method of Designating Colors and a Dictionary of

Color Names by Kenneth L. Kelly and Deane B. Judd, and A Universal

Color Language by Kenneth L. Kelly are combined in and superseded by

this title. The authors advocate a standardized color language and discuss

the origins, advantages, and applications of the Inter-Society Color Council

-National Bureau of Standards method. Most of the book is a listing of

ISCC-N BS color designators for synonymous and near-synonymous color

names, arranged by hue, from 14 commonly used sources or systems,

which makes it possible to find comparable colors from system to system.

This book should be used in conjunction with the ISCC-NBS Color-Name

Charts Illustrated with Centroid Colors, a supplement containing actual

color chips for the 18 hue families (item 93).

96. Kornerup, A., and I. H. Wanscher. Methuen Handbook of Colour.

London: Methuen, 1967. 243 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    This easy-to-read book is intended as an introductory reference for

students, technicians, and artist-craftspeople. It briefly explains the basis of

color systems and describes the visual effects in color usage. The most

useful feature is an international dictionary of colors with British Standard

and Munsell equivalent numbers, and plates of 1,266 color samples with a

descriptive glossary of color names. Colors can be accessed by hue, value,

intensity, and color name. The alphabetical list of color names includes

brief information on the history and usage of the name.

97. Maerz, A., and Paul M . Rea. A Dictionary of Color 2nd ed. New York:

McGraw-Hill, 1950. 208 pp. Color illus.

    The stated goal of this dictionary is to standardize color names, to

give sources for color names, and to index all color names in English; thus

it differs from systems that refer to colors by numbers. While they credit

the 1929 edition of The Munsell Book of Color for its correctness of

principle and completeness, Maerz and Rea present an alternative method

that organizes color samples on a grid. Each of the 56 plates features

printed color swatches arranged in 12 rows and 12 columns. Some plates

show gradations between two colors. Curiously, some colors -- but not all

-- are identified by a color name printed on the plate. The short explanatory

text includes a brief history of color standardization and provides an

interesting view into color naming methods of the time.

98. Munsell, Albert H. A Color Notation. Baltimore: Munsell Color,

1981. 67 pp. Index, glossary, B/W illus.

    Munsell explains the conceptual basis for his influential color

system, which uses measured scales of hue, value, and chroma to create

and define colors. This is a primary resource that comes with two charts

and color chips for the reader to paste in. Information for matching the

colors in paint or ink is not provided. The complete Munsell color notation

system, available from the Munsell Company as The Book of Color,

comprises an international standard frequently used by color researchers.

A related asymmetrical color solid designed to be a teaching aid is also


99. Munsell Color. Munsell Book of Color. Baltimore, 1976.

Unpaginated. B/W illus., color illus.

    A very brief explanation of the Munsell color notation system is

followed by 40 pages with glossy-finish color standards that represent more

than 1,500 Munsell notations. Organized into two loose-leaf notebooks,

the ten Munsell hues are shown at their 2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10 degree

positions. Each page contains slits into which the 5/8” by 3/4” chips are

inserted according to Munsell hue, value, and chroma. Color specification

in science and industry relies heavily on this system, and the Munsell

approach to organizing perception-based color spaces has increasing

relevance for computer graphics. The system is explained in detail in

Munsell ’s Color Notation (1971).

100. Ostwald, Wilhelm. The Color Primer. Edited by Faber Birren. New York:

Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969. 96 pp. Bibl., B/W illus., color illus.

    Birren provides the editing, a brief foreword, and evaluation for this

“liberally translated and edited reprinting” of Ostwald’s Color Primer. The

Color Primer is a more elementary explanation of the color system than

Ostwald’s Colour Science (1931). The discussion of achromatic colors and

the creation of a gray scale based on geometric progressions is very detailed

and well illustrated. A section on how the admixture of white or black

affects the perceived appearance of a hue contains useful information not

often found in the literature. Because discussion of Ostwald’s color

system, color solid, and color harmonies is very brief, this book is suitable

mainly as an introduction. For a more comprehensive view, see Basic

Color by Egbert Jacobson (1948).

101. Ostwald, Wilhelm. Colour Science: A Handbook for Advanced Students in

Schools, Colleges, and the Various Arts, Crafts, and Industries Depending

on the Use of Color. Translated by J. Scott Taylor. London: Winsor &

Newton, 1931. Vol. 1, 141 pp.; Vol. 2, 173 pp. B/W illus., color illus.

    In the first volume a compact history of color theory is followed by

chapters on light and vision, a thorough discussion of how Ostwald

developed his system, and a detailed description of that system. The second

volume reviews color measurement, the physiochemical aspects of color,

color mixing and pigments, psychophysical aspects such as meaning and

harmony, and then concludes with a colored Ostwald 24-hue circle.

Although this valuable primary source contains much more information,

many readers will find Basic Color by Egbert Jacobson an easier

introduction to the basics of the complex Ostwald system.

102. Pantone ® Professional Color System: Color Guide for Architecture,

Interiors, Fashion, and Beauty 3rd ed. Moonachie, NI: Pantone, 1989.

Unpaginated. Index, color illus.

    The system appears in several formats for various functions. In this

version the Selector shows color samples in a fan format with 1,000 color

numbers and names in six languages. The Pantone® Professional Color

Specifier consists of 143 loose-leaf sheets with numbered, tear-out color

chips for 1,000 colors that are claimed to the most widely used colors in this

field. The short text that accompanies the swatches reveals the organization

Of the colors in b/w diagrams, and the code for numbering each color

deciphered. The Pantone® specification system is based on a cylindrical

color solid with a color circuit divided into 64 sections, ten horizontal

reflectance levels, and various saturation positions, all indicated in the color

number. Pantone® is used internationally by design professionals and is

also used in computer graphics. Consequently, this is a virtually universal

resource and color tool for those who select and specify color.

103. RHS Colour Chart. Rev. ed. London: Royal Horticultural Society in

Association with the Flower Council of Holland, 1986. Unpaginated.

Color illus.

    This edition of the RHS Color Chart expands the 1966 edition and

reorganizes the color samples into a new fan format, with instructions for

use. Each of the four fans has approximately 50 sheets, with four different

“colour shades.” “The Table of Cross-References” indexes four other color

standards and lists the computer product codes used for flower auctions in

Holland. Originally developed by Robert Francis Wilson in 1938, the

color standards provide a wide range of colors suitable for color matching in

horticulture and related fields.

104 Taylor, J. Scott. A Simple Explanation of the Ostwald Colour System.

London: Winsor & Newton, 1935. 52 pp. B/W illus.

    This book is a simplified version of concepts originally explained in

the more complex Colour Science by Ostwald himself. Though not as

comprehensive or well illustrated as Egbert Jacobson’s Basic Color: An

Interpretation of the Ostwald Color System, this remains one of the few

useful secondary sources on the Ostwald system.

105. The Wilson Colour Chart London: British Colour Council. 1938. 2 vols.

108 pp. Color illus.

    Also known as the Horticultural Colour Charts, Robert Francis

Wilson first prepared this work for the Royal Horticultural Society. A short

text introduces 100 pages of color standards. Each page shows one hue

with four printed color samples, along with a few lines of text on the

history, foreign synonyms, and horticultural examples. The first 64 colors

are full hues arranged in a complete spectra] sequence; the remaining 36 are

lighter, darker, or grayed versions of the full hues. This pioneering effort

to standardize colors and color names for horticulture is revised and

published regularly as the RHS Colour Chart. Since the standard is

intended for matching and recording colors of horticultural materials,

information for replicating the colors in paints or inks is not given.

with four printed color samples, along with a few lines of text on the

history, foreign synonyms, and horticultural examples. The first 64 colors

are full hues arranged in a complete spectral sequence; the remaining 36 are

lighter, darker, or grayed versions of the full hues. This pioneering effort

to standardize colors and color names for horticulture is revised and

published regularly as the RHS Colour Chart. Since the standard is

intended for matching and recording colors of horticultural materials,

information for replicating the colors in paints or inks is not given.