Werner’s Nomenclature of Colors

It finally came! I have been looking at this book on line forever, have asked friends in the antique book business to look for one for me, too. Its Werner’s Nomenclature of Colors: Adapted to Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Anatomy and the Arts by P. Syme. It was originally published in 1814, and was a “taxonomic guide to the colors of the natural world.” 

You can read more about the original at This Is Colossal, including photos of the original book with its hand painted color chips. But in the meantime, the Smithsonian has released an edition of this book for the likes of me. At $14.95 I can overlook the fact that the color chips are printed and not hand colored…

The colors and their descriptions are like poems: “Wax Yellow: Animal: Larva of large Water Beetle, Vegetable: Greenish Parts of Non-Pareil Apple, Mineral: Semi-Opal.” Or “Yellowish Grey: Animal: Vent Converts of White Rump, Vegetable: Stems of the Barberry, Mineral: Common Calcedony.”

To add to this, the book is nicely bound.The cover is turquoise with an inset cover in which the antique looking title label is inserted. The endpapers are brilliant orange (I am sure this wasn’t like this in the original edition!), and there’s a turquoise ribbon to mark pages.

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