Who made that Pantone 629M?

Robin's egg blue is my favorite color. Luckily, it looks really good with brown. I’m getting ready to place my first straw order, picking the Pantone color for Bellflower Chocolate this week: 629U and/or M. Thank you, Lawrence Herbert.

Pantone swatches at the School of Visual Concepts Open House. Seattle, WA, March 2015.

In the early 1960s, as Lawrence Herbert drove to work in a blue Cadillac with cherry red seats, he mulled over a problem: How to create a “universal language” of color. Herbert, the owner of the Pantone printing company, had just produced a retail display card that helped shoppers choose pantyhose. He had to hand-mix the subtle beiges of each swatch, because it was so difficult to buy the exact shade he wanted from an ink manufacturer. Each company defined colors differently, and when you ordered “wheat” or “taupe” or “cream,” you couldn’t predict what you’d get.
The solution, he realized, was to create a unified color system in which each shade was expressed as a number. “If somebody in New York wanted something printed in Tokyo, they would simply open up the book and say, ‘Give me Pantone 123,’ ” Herbert says; 123 (a daffodil yellow) would look exactly the same the world over. Herbert created a sample page to show how the system worked and sent it to ink makers. Fifty years later, he still owns a copy of that page: “I’ve got it right here in my office in Palm Beach.” – Who Made That Pantone Chip?

Cross-posted from nineteenthirtyfour.org

Callie NeylanComment