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Old color names for the 3c 1851-57 stamps  
 

 
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Pillar Of The Community

Germany
907 Posts
Posted 09/12/2018   11:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add stamperix to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello,

in Scott Specialized many colors for the 3c 1851-57 are listed. But I find more color names which seem to be "old" where I have questions about.

- in Micarelli's guide the color "Venetian red" is listed, for example, at Scott 11, 26, 26A.

Isn't "Venetian Red" just one component (80%) of the early colors, or is this color a accepted variety as Micarelli indicated?

- Chase also named other colors he probably defined himself while looking at Ridgway's color book, for example: Brazil red, Dragon's blood red, Etruscan red, Garnet brown, Corinthian red, Morocco red.

Which of those have been or are still accepted as varieties? I don't find them (and either the Venetian red) on the USPCS 3c 1851 Color Website (and not in Scott specialized), so my guess is that all colors I named above are today listed under other (main) colors?

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Valued Member
United States
112 Posts
Posted 09/13/2018   11:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AJ Valente to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In the process of developing paper studies of the '51-'57-'59 issues I have compiled a fairly complete color study of the 3-cent stamp running to a few hundred stamps.

The 3-cent color chart is divided between 1851, 1857, and 1859, the latter attributed to the paper change of 1859.

Stamperix writes: "Isn't "Venetian Red" just one component (80%) of the early colors . . .?"

The two principal inks are Venetian Red and Vermilion. As described in Dr. Chase's book, "Venetian Red . . . is a pigment of oxide of iron. . . . <and> Vermilion, a pigment of mercuric sulfide."

The three-cent stamp used composite mineral inks, that is, a mixture of two mineral inks often referred to as Venetian Red and Vermilion. Mineral inks of the red and brown spectrum are especially notable for producing a wide range of colors. It is believed that about every four months the contractor purchased another batch of ink(s) from the supplier. As a result of these variables, consistency of color was difficult to achieve. It wasn't until 1859 that some regularity appeared, and even then the spectrum consisted of two principal colors (claret and brownish carmine).

IMO there is a tendency by Micarelli to over-simplify, while on the other hand, American students tend to create more colors than necessary.

It is a general rule that mineral inks always produce a range of color from pale to deep. In addition, the mixture of two inks is not always perfect, consequently there may also appear sub-ranges within the overall color chart. For example, orange brown is a principal color, then there are the sub-ranges, orange brown with more red, orange brown with more brown, etc.

Experts also tend to peel-off extremes of sub-ranges to create what I call "designer colors." Designer colors are very specific types, and as such they have little no range. A designer color would be something like, coppery orange brown.
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Valued Member
United States
112 Posts
Posted 09/13/2018   11:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AJ Valente to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Stamperix's next question: "Chase also named other colors he probably defined himself while looking at Ridgway's color book, for example: Brazil red, Dragon's blood red, Etruscan red, Garnet brown, Corinthian red, Morocco red. Which of those have been or are still accepted as varieties?"

The short answer is, ALL of them. These can be found in the forward to Dr. Chase's book written by the late Thomas Alexander. All of the named colors are designer varieties of 1858.

I can't get into the entirety of what happened in 1858. It should be noted I have transcribed about a dozen or more documents from the Crane Paper Museum that deal with this period, so something of what was happening at that time is known.

Let us say that as a result of the introduction of perforation in 1857 that the manufacturer tried-out a second brand of paper in 1858 (Crane paper). This second paper produced rather dark and muddy impressions as compared to the former, and as a result in 1858 there seems to have been some experimentation with the ink(s). Eventually, a new type of paper was developed and rolled-out in 1859. This type of paper (textured rag) became a mainstay in the paper industry, and it was continually used for U.S. stamps until 1878.
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Valued Member
United States
112 Posts
Posted 09/13/2018   11:28 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AJ Valente to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Stamperix final question: "I don't find them (and either the Venetian red) on the USPCS 3c 1851 Color Website (and not in Scott specialized), so my guess is that all colors I named above are today listed under other (main) colors?"

The main color chart only lists the principal color ranges (and in some cases not all of them IMO). Certain sub-ranges are occasionally listed, for instance if they have a provenance from prior catalogs. Designer colors are almost never listed in the catalog. The '58 Brazil red, '58 Dragon's blood red, etc. are designer colors, and as such are only found within specialized color charts.
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Pillar Of The Community
Germany
907 Posts
Posted 09/14/2018   02:52 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stamperix to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
thank you very much, AJ, this was interesting to read. and interesting to know about the designer colors. I will have to read more literature about this.

what I wonder still about: The venetian red, is this also a designer color, or more a component of colors? Micarelli lists the Venetian red not only for the late stamps, but also earlier stamps, so I guess it's not a designer color. Is this perhaps just an error in Micarelli, or what do you mean if you say they simplify, so what colors did they simplify to say "Venetian red" at the end?

and: do you use Ridgway to get the best idea of the designer colors, or are there other accurate color charts for this?
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Valued Member
United States
112 Posts
Posted 09/14/2018   10:09 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AJ Valente to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Stamperix, I simplified the description of color mixing in the prior post because the truth is somewhat daunting. A section in my book called, "Color in Paper," describes various methods and materials used to obtain various shades. This information (at bottom of post) was gleened from various contenporary sources, but bear in mind that chemistry was in its infancy during the middle of the 19th century.

Latter-day color guides are constructed around a range of possibilities created by modern chemistry. Color charts as Ridgeway are at best a mere suggestion because color is fungable. Anyone who's tried to mix house paint or wall paint from a color guide finds this out very quickly. An accurate reference guide for the 1850s would be one that uses only mineral colors available in the day. Someday perhaps a historian will create such a chart for a museum exhibit or collection, but until such time philatelists must use what they can.

To obtain a fresh batch of ink I can only imagine our 1851 stamp contractor, Mr. Charles Steel, going down to the local printer supply warehouse such as David McWilliams on 229 Christian St. Perhaps he took with him some stamps for examples, and certainly the supplier had color swatches of his own for reference. The two would then work together to obtain the desired result. Greens and blues are fairly standard and are easily replicated. Browns and reds, however, are troublesome. Stocks of various materials can run short and substitution is often required. Cost is one factor that rules out the exotic materials used by artists, etc. In the days before Mr. Steel (1855) little care was given to match colors, and as a result we have poor inks as dull red ('53), rose red ('54), and orange red ('55). Mr. Steel was more interested in bolder colors and those inks that produced the best impression quality. Steel managed to create some of the best printings of the '51 series. Consistancy, however, was, and would always would be a problem with mineral inks.

So, here's the result of my aforementioned research:

Brown shades primarily come from Venetian red (ferric oxide). Aniline red is greenish granular crystals or ground into red powder used to make magenta, mauve, rubine, and rose. Dark brown made with quercitron, logwood, sandalwood, Brazil wood, and Hungarian fustic. Light brown made as above with green vitriol or bichromate of potash. Catechu brown comes from catechu and green vitriol. Olive brown is made from logwood, quercitron, and Hungarian fustic. Coffee brown is an acetate of copper in water treated after with yellow prussiate of potash. Light leather brown is made from logwood liquor, Brazil wood dye liquor, and fustic dye liquor. Mifonce brown comes from logwood, gustic dye, and Brazil wood. Aniline browns are insoluble in water but soluble in sprit of wine or acetic acid. Bismarck brown comes from tarry black brown. Havana brown and phenol brown are made from creosote of coal tar.
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Valued Member
United States
112 Posts
Posted 09/14/2018   10:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AJ Valente to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Stamperix, getting back to your question about Venetian red and designer colors, as one may judge from the prior post there is a real canyon between our current color charts and the reality on the ground in the 1850s.

A committee has determined all the color ranges and names, so everything is pretty much set in stone at this point. The color committee avoided using the term Venetian red, and therefore it is not a title familiar to American collectors. My thoughts are that certain foreign stamps are classified as Venetian red and that Micharelli simply transferred the title to like-appearing U.S. varieties. One can argue that Venetian red or derivitives thereof were used in these inks, therefore it is valid to call them by that name. But again, this is a very generic assignment.

Let's talk more about specialization and designer colors.

For those just lurking on this thread, the major color groups the average collector will encounter are:

1851 issue: orange brown ('51), brownish carmine ('52), dull red ('53), rose red ('54), orange red ('55), brownish carmine ('56), and claret ('57).

1857 issue" Ty.I claret ('57), Ty.II brownish carmine ('57), Ty.II brownish claret ('58).

1859 issue: brownish carmine, and claret.

Specialization begins once one starts to recognise sub-group colors such as yellowish rose red ('56) or pale claret ('57). Color specialists eventually want to collect all the major ranges, all the sub-ranges, and all the designer colors. That is the name of the game. If this is of interest to you, I recommend contacting your local philatelic organization or club and asking for someone with advanced knowledge to guide you along.

So far as the designer colors go--what's in a name? I'm sure there was much discussion in committee about matching stamps to swatches, the main purpose being to derive names from a standard color chart. But, I'm a paper guy, and in my field only things like trial printings or experimental printings are of interest. If a designer color corresponds with a trial of paper, or vice versa, then I am interested. Otherwise, a specialized color has little value to me beyond its intrinsic value. Having said as much, it's surprising there are so many designer colors from 1858, because 1858 was a period of experimentation. So, as a color specialist and a paper expert, certain designer colors are of great interest.
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Pillar Of The Community
Germany
907 Posts
Posted 09/17/2018   07:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stamperix to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
thank you again, AJ. About the Venetian Red I think I know what I wanted to know, and I just think Micarelli was a bit wrong in using this name.

I asked about Ridgway because Chase, who certainly saw some of the 3c 1851-57 stamps, used Ridgway's names to describe some stamps in his color charts (he dates them 1857). That's why I listed all Ridgway colors that Chase used (and I found) above. There are some color chart systems like Pantone, Munsell and Ridgway, and he chose Ridgway. Was he the first or were the designer colors named with Ridgway names before? I guess Chase was the first to do so (and to decribe the designer colors in general?). PSE uses Pantone to give some hints about stamp colors, some are good, some are funny. So my idea would be to use Ridgway to get an idea of those colors.

I looked at Siegel database for all those colors, there are some Morocco and Etruscan red, not many others. It seems the Pinkish and the Plum colors attract more collectors. (by the way I didn't find the pink color at all on the USPCS 3c color list.)
https://www.uspcs.org/stamps-covers...-11-and-11a/
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