standardized colors

Thu Jul 24 19:37:45 CDT 1997

I haven not seen two of the three color chart systems mentioned by
Joe Kirkbride, but I can add some information about the Munsell system.

The hugely expensive Munsell kit contains a huge number of color chips,
most of which most people may never use.  But there are at least three
smaller chip sets in the Munsell color system.

Many geologists get by with a 5-by-8 inch Rock Color Chart distributed
by the Geological Society of America and available for about $30.00 US
from mail order catalogs such as MINERS or FORESTRY SUPPLIERS.  The back
of mine proclaims that "It includes 115 genuine Munsell standard color
chips, each with its formal ISCS-NBS [Inter Society Color Council-
National Bureau of Standars] color name *and* its unique Munsell alpha-
numeric notation."  The other two, larger, sets are not to my knowledge
distributed by GSA.

Next comes the Soil Color Chart for about $100, with 4 supplements ($15
each) with colors found commonly in submerged, tropical, or desert soils.
It has 251 colors (I don't know if that is with or without supplements).

My FORESTRY SUPPLIERS catalog for 1995 lists a Munsell Plant Tissue
Color Chart for $140. It has 320 chips selected to represent colors
"resulting from nutrient deficienty in plant tissues".  I have no idea
what the range of hues is in this set.

It is my impression that, for the money, the Rock Color Chart is the
best of the three, even for describing colors of plant parts, unless
your requirements are very, very particular.  It has an excellent range
of hues; the chips are all of a consistent middle intensity and mounted
on neutral grey cardstock; a friend who works as a research gemologist
in the gem trade says that with a more precise system you should begin
to worry about color shifts due to light being absorbed differently by
your sample and the chips under diferent ambient light conditions;
with only 115 colors to choose from, it is relatively easy to decide
which is closest;  and, perhaps most important of all, it is small and
cheap enough to use in the field.

        Una Smith
        Yale University

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