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REF: Colors, Descriptions, Confusions

In a message dated 1/19/05 10:19:42 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
neilm@charter.net writes:

<<  I agree with what Jim implies, but does not directly say, that if we all 
 the same system, had an AIS-prescribed "norm" for a system, we would have 
 advantage. >>

AIS has, of course, adopted various color charts "officially" at various 
phases of its development. The first to be so adopted was the Ridgway chart, 
"Color Standards and Color Nomenclature," of 1912, and many of the color names and 
descriptions that appear in commercial catalogs and the AIS Bulletin in the 
1920's and 1930's, especially those written by Robert Sturtevant, are not 
fanciful poetic codswallop but precise information keyed to this chart. The Ridgway, 
developed as a scientific chart, not a horticultural one per soe, contains 
over 1000 color plates and is a collector's item now. 

Then in 1949, upon the recommendation of its Registrar, Robert E. Allen, AIS 
adopted the Wilson Chart, which was the precurser to the Royal Horticultural 
Society color fans, which in their day, superceeded it, and were for some time 
available from AIS. These, in the current edition, are the standard in the 
horticultural world today, and are, like all good scientific tools, also 
expensive. None of the useful color charts have ever been cheap, so concordances 
between any of them are of limited utility.

<< This may sound like data over-load, but in the HIPS work, if such detailed 
 descriptions existed for grand historics, identification of varieties would 
be vastly easier than what we have now--short, terse and very rough 
generalizations of color in those older registrations. >>

Very highly detailed descriptions do indeed exist for the preponderance of 
the better known historic irises, and these can be ordered from the Historic 
Iris Preservation Society.

Detailed descriptions, written by Robert Sturtevant, were printed in several 
issues of the Bulletin well into the 1930s, and they appeared in the Cornell 
Bulletin 112 by Sand. Copious descriptions are found in the Historic Chronicles 
on early hybridizers. There is no dearth of surviving descriptions, and many 
of them are far more detailed than current AIS descriptions, which are, if 
memory serves me well, provided by the hybridizer. Anyone wishing to obtain HIPS 
publications should visit the HIPS page at www.worldiris.com and check out the 
Sales area where Dorothy has provided highly useful descriptions of the 
various Bulletins and what they contain.

Other highly useful descriptions are found in the Book ainbow Fragments, by 
J. Marion Shull, which is far from obscure and not very expensive when one 
finds it. 

In short, if one returns to the period literature itself, it will be 
immediately apparent that at no time was the brief coded color information in the 
early AIS Check Lists intended to do anything other than meet its own clearly 
stated goal, which was to denote a basic color group to point up obvious mixups of 
cultivars occuring in shipping and similar situations.

I have been listening to stories about confusion about color charts and 
confusions about AIS early Check Lists for years, and I have a couple of projects 
now in the planning stages which are, I hope, going to enable fellow 
enthusiasts of historic Irises make their way through the thicket of information on 
these topics. One of these projects is anticipated to be a small publication 
entitled "Making One's Peace with the Early AIS Check Lists: A Guide for the Deeply 
Perplexed,"  which will have as its premise the French statement that "To 
understand all is to forgive all." 


Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA 

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