Hands up: Who knew that the color Prussian Blue can be found in the beauty spot of a mallard’s wing, on the stamen of an anemone or in a piece of blue copper ore? If yours didn’t go up (or even if it did), you might want to delve into Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours by Patrick Syme. First published in the pre-photographic age, it was the 19th-century’s leading guide to color and its classification.
Ok, so we have Pantone swatches to refer to now, but they don’t provide the same vast (handwritten) detail that describes where each specific shade can be found on an animal, plant or mineral. And they also weren’t used by Charles Darwin to name nature’s colors during his voyage on the HMS Beagle…
- Find out more on Smithsonianbooks.com
Text Julia Gorodecky