Dec 3rd, 2011 | | Aesthetics | Colour Ranges | No Comments

Hay’s Nomenclature of Colours (1)

Plate 1 - Nomenclature of Colours

Plate 1
The Primary Colours above and the Secondary Colours below1

A Nomenclature of Colours, Hues, Tints, and Shades, Applicable to the Arts and Natural Sciences; to Manufactures, and other Purposes of General Utility was written by David Ramsay Hay (see below) and published in 1845.

Hay was influenced by George Field’s Chromatography; or, a Treatise on Colours and Pigments and Goethe’s Theory of Colours. He developed a numerical system of colour relationships based on the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Colours.

The Nomenclature is one of Hay’s scarcest books and one of the most important. It is an early and rare collection of numbered colour samples, many of which are named. Therein lies its importance. Instead of relying on 21st century interpretations of colour names, one can see examples of what was felt to be “drab colour”, “Sage green”, “olive” etc. in the 1840s. As in other of Hay’s books, the plates are here made up of multi-coloured triangles of coloured paper pasted on engraved card stock. There are 40 plates having a total of 240 mounted and identified chips.2

The rest of this essay has been removed after six years. You can now read more about this in The Anatomy of Colour, published by Thames & Hudson and available from John Sandoe (Books).

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