how many colours exist today?

Where does one colour stop and another begin?

At what point does ‘Cerulean’ become ‘Aqua’? And ‘Scarlet’ become ‘Cerise’?

Who determines such things?

Crayola, amongst other authorities, apparently.

And if you’re selling crayons, then the more colours that exist, the more crayons you sell, the more profit you make.

As explained eloquently by this infographic.

Thanks Robin for the linkcandy.

7 thoughts on “how many colours exist today?

  1. Hello fellow English Major!

    This is something I’d never thought about – but I guess I can’t be too mad at the crayon factories, even if they are devious criminal masterminds. For far too long, I wanted to be the person who named crayons.

    I’ve been forced to leave my box of 96 (with built-in sharpener) at home, in favor of CMYK breakdowns and PMS-matching. Not gonna lie, I miss it. I’ll take cerulean over pms632c any day.

  2. Oh, true. That’d be an wonderful job – naming crayons, or paint swatches, or lipsticks, or nail polishes… painting with words, in a way.
    It’s funny, looking in my make-up bag now, I have one lip gloss called ‘Rosie’ and a different one called (though i’m having to REALLY squint now) ‘755 Pink.’
    There’s kind of something poetic and tragic about the fact that all they could come up with was a number.

  3. If you’re ever in Northern Europe, see if you can get to Holland to visit a tulip farm. They’re like a living, breathing Crayola box on steroids. If you do, I defy you to try and describe some of the colours. (“A mauvey shade of pinky russet”)

    Holland started their tulip obsession in the 1600s, when a floral disease started to change the colours. This must have freaked out the religious, who would have thought that God was creating new species. But it came only a couple of hundred years after the Black Death wiped out one third of Europe, at a time when people believed that the only cure was Indonesian nutmeg. Records from the time show that a 5 pound bag of nutmeg could be traded for a house in a good part of London complete with a servant. So botany was big business.

    So when weird new tulip colours appeared in the 1600s, it instigated one of the biggest financial bubbles in history.

  4. Holland got their tulips from the Ottoman Empire … the Sultans cultivated them in their palace gardens into thousands of different varieties and then sold/traded them west. 🙂 Lest we think of tulips as Dutch, they’re really pre-Turkish.

  5. Love your description of Crayola as an “authority” and your logical but hilarious explanation of the correlation between crayon colours and crayon sales.

  6. Hah, dunno bout ‘logical but hilarious’ 🙂 I wonder about the logic – whether there realy is a direct relationship between choice and consumption – ie, the more colours to choose from, the greater the crayon sales.
    Maybe the better analogy is with makeup. I’m trying to think through the way I respond when buying, say, a lip gloss – whether a greater choice of colours makes me more inclined to purchase one. Or whether I just end up paralysed by the options and end up leaving and spending the money on, i dunno… crayons or something.

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