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Subject: Color systems

Color systems

From: Martin Juergens <9mcj>
Date: Monday, October 25, 1999
I am a paper conservation (MAC) student at Queen's University in
Kingston, Ontario, and have been tackling the following issue

In the search for an accurate, repeatable, internationally accepted,
and standardized color system for the technical description of the
color of an object that is being examined and treated, I have come
across a number of color systems, each of which seems to have its
own advantages and disadvantages. From the archives, I know that
this subject has been addressed before, but I had the impression
that no consensus had been reached as to which color description
system might be most practical for the needs of conservators,
conservation scientists, archivists, curators, art historians,
scanning technicians, digital imaging specialists, and printers.

Some of the systems I have encountered were:

    Color Names Dictionary
    published by the Inter-Society Color Council and the National
    Bureau of Standards

    Elisabeth Lunning and Roy Perkinson
    The Print Council of America Paper Sample Book: A Practical
    Guide to the Description of Paper, (1996)

    Pantone: offers various color ranges

    Munsell: offers various color ranges

I would like to send out this short survey, and ask for your
cooperation in filling it out and returning it to me, if time and
interest permits. I will gladly sum up the results and post them on
this list. The purpose of this request is to get an idea of how many
people or institutions use which color system, information which
might assist in the choice to go with. It wouldn't seem to make much
sense to me to be using a system that is either outdated, not
renewable, or simply not used by other professionals. Further, I
would be interested in hearing what criteria are important to you in
your choice of a color system. Following, then, is my list of
questions, which should by no means restrict the scope of the
answers. Rather, it is open to discussion.

    1.  Which, if any, color description system do you use in your
        position, private practice, and/or institution?

    2.  How many colors, and what range of hues should a system
        offer? (Pantone and Munsell have a variety of fans, for

    3.  Would too many colors just be too confusing, or are they
        deemed necessary?

    4.  What format should the system have (book, fan, removable
        chips, digital file)?

    5.  Would it be good to have the choice of ONE color system to
        be used in all areas connected to the museum, conservation,
        digital imaging, and printing environment?

    6.  How important is the cost of the color system? (I know the
        answer to this one already!)

I would appreciate any other comments and opinions, or even
references to further information.

Martin Juergens
329 Earl St., #315
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 2J4
+1 613 533-7009

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:27
                 Distributed: Monday, October 25, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-13-27-006
Received on Monday, 25 October, 1999

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