The Colors of Ridgeway and Methuen (Kornerup & Wanscher): An Eye-Ball Concordance
BY RONALD H. PETERSEN
See Also: Color Concordance Index
All students of mushrooms and their relatives are painfully aware that monographs and floristic publications by Alexander H. Smith, Lexemual R. Hesler, Howard Bigelow, Harry Thiers and several others, attempt to accurately communicate colors through citation of names from Ridgway (a volume often, but not always cited in bibliographies, and materials and methods). Because the book (see below) was published in a limited edition (folklore indicates only 500), suffers from light-exposure (as warned by Ridgway himself), and is now almost totally unavailable, recourse to Ridgway colors are a source of frustration. Copies of Ridgway are absent from large parts of the world, much less the hands of most North American mycologists. Conversely, most modern basidiomycete taxonomists own or can get the color manual commonly known as "Methuen," compiled by Kornerup and Wanscher. A concordance between the two sources would seem of significant utility, therefore, and is furnished below.
The following items are pertinent and should be read before using the concordance:
The concordance is strictly eye-ball. No technology or scientific comparison was used. I think I have pretty good color perception, but others may not think so.
The method of color printing was very different in the two volumes and this often makes comparison of individual colors more difficult. Colored papers for Ridgway were printed individually, with the color covering the paper evenly as though painted with a brush. .This gives the colors a matt but solid, often somewhat vibrant quality. The large papers were then cut into small swatches and glued individually on the gray-background papers of each page. "Methuen" colors, conversely, are printed directly on the papers used for pages, in the usual color process with minutes dots of color. The result is that colors are never as bright or vibrant as those in Ridgway, and often comparison of the two books is not easy.
The choice of copies (especially of Ridgway) is important. The publisher’s hope and claim has been that "Methuen" is both color-permanent and reproducible; that is, the colors do not fade in light, and colors of various editions are essentially equal.
The copy of Ridgway used below has seen very little use. It was owned by S.M. Zeller (purchased in 1919 for $8.00) and Helen Gilkey (purchased in 1949 for $25.00) among others, and I bought it in 1996 for $125.00. Although the endpapers have been pulled from the binding, the interior of the volume is almost pristine. The formal citation is as follows:
Ridgway, Robert. 1912. Color Standards and Color Nomenclature. Washington, D.C., published privately (by the author). 43 pp + 53 color pls.
The copy of "Methuen" used below is the second edition and is well-worn, although rarely taken in the field. Color plates are still as they were when new. The book can be cited as follows:
Kornerup, A., and J.H. Wanscher. 1967. Methuen Handbook of Colour. Second edition. Methuen Co., London. 243 pp + 30 two-page color plates.
The concordance is composed of two charts. The first is an alphabetical list of Ridgway colors preceded by their closest homolog in "Methuen." The second is the reverse of the first, and probably will see little use. But the concordance itself is instructive, as follows:
A glance at the second chart will reveal that many Methuen colors do not find a match in Ridgway. This is little wonder, for the number of colors in Methuen far outpass those of Ridgway.
Also obvious in the second chart, many Methuen colors have more than one Ridgway match. For example, Methuen 9A3 finds matches in Ridgway colors "hermosa pink," "vinaceous pink," and "light Congo pink." This means that I can find little difference among these Ridgway colors, and all are very close to Methuen 9A3.
When there is no match in Methuen for a Ridgway color, it it often one of the more sensational Ridgways colors, especially the very irridescent blues (Ridgway was an ornithologist).
As is the practice in the mycological literature, Methuen colors are cited by color plate number (i.e. 9), column designation (i.e. A) and row number (i.e. 3). Therefore, 9A3 refers to plate 9, column A. row 3. Ridgway colors are cited merely by the name used by Ridgway (i.e. light Congo pink).
Finally, I strongly urge those who are able to read the introductory materials in both volumes. That material is instructive not only to the nomenclature of colors, but to the sources and production of the plates. For example, Ridgway has several colors with the name "Rood’s" as a modifier (i.e. "Rood’s blue," "Rood’s lavender," etc.) This means nothing until one knows that Ogden N. Rood was the compiler of a previous color manual and a source for Ridgway colors.