Are there standard color references for mycological work?

Lorelei Norvell lorelei at TELEPORT.COM
Tue Oct 10 11:39:08 EST 1995

Brian --
	For years the standard colore reference for agaricologists has 
been Ridgway.  Unfortunately Ridgway was printed in 1912, is 
extraordinarily rare (which rather defeats the purpose as a good 
standard), and the various color chips in different books have faded 
because of their different exposure to light.  I have used Ridgway and 
like it very much, because I relate better to names (Mikado Brown  and 
Quaker Drab tell me more than 1YR-5 or some such), but realize it is no 
use speaking a language when I'm the only one speaking it, hence I am 
attempting a conversion.
	At considerable expense I purchased a Munsell, which is rapidly 
becoming the reference for all those who work with color.  Unlike 
Ridgway, the colors are organized in an organized fashion, and it is 
quite easy to use.  It is also expensive -- I got a used copy for $250.  
New it is at least $500.  I somehow don't think that is what you have in 
	There is a smaller guide -- Methuen -- available for around 
	And in the seventies there was issued the Centroid Color Chart 
(now out of print) which I received for free, and is invaluable.
It also uses names AND numbers, i.e. Ridway's Liver Brown is listed as 
medium reddish Brown #43 (which in Munsell is "spoken" as 8.75 2.8/4.9).
I have received a fair amount of good information on conversions from one 
chart to another from Dr. Willium Cibula of NASA who is in the process of 
writing an excellent article on Color Standardization and Measurement in 
Biology (whose e-mail address I have managed to temporarily displace but 
who can be reached at work at 601-688-3830 or written to at 700 Idlewild 
Drive, Picayune, MS).  The Centroid charts (actually a packet of colors) 
may still be available; perhaps someone could forward an address where 
they might be obtained.
	Of course it all depends to what degree you wish to immerse 
yourself in color.  I have found that in describing an important 
collection that attempting to designate a color without reference to a 
guide is virtually impossible.  Color is one of those subjective 
attributes which -- like handedness -- tend to shift from observer to 
observer (note the numerous vigorous discussions between people fighting 
over a blue-green color as to whether it is green or blue, for example).
But you need not necessarily resort to expensive measures.  You could, 
for example pick up color chips at a local paint store and place them 
with your collecting materials or Roy Watling has been known to even use 
cosmetic color chips in his courses (and how different, really, is 
passionate peach or mascarade purple of Revlon from Glaucous Gull Blue of 
Ridgway???).  You won't necessarily have a standard, but it will sharpen 
your eye to note the complex of colors which is present in a natural 
organism.  Before using standards, I considered myself to have a very 
good color sense (still do; at least I'm not color blind), but I was 
surprised when using Ridgway to discover that there would be so much 
purple present in a color which I would describe as a soft orange brown.

	Let me know what you do -- how exact you want to be -- and good luck.

Lorelei Norvell

 On 10 Oct 1995, Brian Winkler wrote:

> I have been reading David Aurora's Mushrooms Demystified, the National 
> Audobon Society's Mushroom Field Guide, along with some other works.
> In all of these works, there is reference made to a plethora of different 
> color distinctions.  Are these colors referenced to any grand scheme, and 
> is there a color swatchbook available somewhere for these colors?  None 
> of the above-mentioned works lists any color source in their 
> bibliographies or introductions.
> A quick check of my university library led me to the following 
> references:
> Color: Universal Language and Dictionary of Names (1976) US Gvmt Printing 
> Ofc.  (The only one which my library carries.)
> The references cited in this work follow:
> Maerz and Paul: Dictionary of Color, 1st edition. (General)
> Ridgway: Color Standards and Color Nomenclature (Biology, Botany)
> Taylor, Knoche, Granville: Descriptive Color Names Dictionary (Mass Market)
> H.A. Dade: Colour Terminology in Biology (Biology)
> R.F. Wilson: Horticultural Color Charts (Horticulture)
> Anyone have any success or authoritative answer for which of these might 
> be used for mycological identification color (spore prints, fruitbodies, 
> etc.) cross-referencing?
> As my manual from the GPO is from 1976, there may be newer versions or 
> entirely different citations currently in vogue.
> The on-campus mycological research assistant directed me to the CMI Colour 
> List or the CMI Colour Chart, but neither of these can be found 
> anywhere.
> I am particularly interested in a guide that I can purchase to use away 
> from the library.  Thanks in advance!
> --
> ========================================================================
> ! Brian R. Winkler, M.A. Candidate !  "Stanley Kuebrick, and his       !
> ! Department of Anthropology       !  buddy, HAL, now don't look that  !
> ! Western Washington University    !  abstract."  -- Jimmy Buffett     !
> ! Bellingham, WA  98225-9083       !  PGP Key Available Upon Request   !
> ========================================================================

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