Vintage color history

I inherited a vintage book “Achievement in Photo-Engraving and Letterpress Printing” 1927, it’s ONLY 488 pages with over 600 illustrations. Published by the American Photo-Engravers Association (Chicago, IL).

“Definition: Photo-Engraving is an interpretive art founded upon photo-mechanical processes enhanced by skill and artistry, which translate and convert tone values into relief printing surfaces, from which exact reproductions of the original can be printed innumerable times. The contents of this volume embrace an unusually wide range of subjects, including many examples of design, form, effect, color, application and presentation.”

This book is loaded with beautiful images. One of my favorites is “The Color Checkerboard,” a chart based upon the Munsell System of color, developed by E.C. Andrews.  The second paragraph reads: “Every color has three dimensions or attributes — Hue, Value and Chroma; Hue being the color quality itself (that quality which distinguishes a red from a green); Value being the lightness or darkness of the Huefor example, pink would be called a red of high value. Chroma is the color strength of any pigmentthat quality which distinguishes a strong color from a weaker (or grayer) one.”

Although graphic designers do not use this color system for four-color process printing, I have an appreciation for studying color history. Wikipedia has a very interesting article about Munsell Color and I was surprised to learn that the company is still in business with an excellent website. “The way you visually match color today is the result of Albert H. Munsell’s work nearly a century ago.”

I’ll be sharing more images from this tome in future posts.


engravers colors Vintage color history
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 Vintage color history


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