The Color Helm


I bought this a couple of weeks ago, purely to go in my moving wheel/dial collection. Little did I know it had so much history.

The Color Helm: Guide to correct color combinations was produced by Ostwald Color Standards in the 1940’s. It was available in Professional, Spectrum, Student (which is the one I have), Womens’s Wearing Apparel and Interior Decorator’s models. Promising to be “Your answer to every color problem”!

It’s based on Ostwald’s Color System developed by Wilhelm Ostwald and “presents the fundamental laws of color and demonstrates them”. It basically shows a full spectrum of colour combinations with tints and darks in the exact percentage chosen. I haven’t quite figured out everything it does yet, but it came in the original box with it’s instructions, so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

It turns out Wilhelm Ostwald has quite a history too... He was a Latvian/German Physical Chemist and natural philosopher, who won the Nobel Prize in 1909 for work on catalysis and chemical equilibrium and originated the process for preparing Nitric Acid.

However he also did outstanding work systemising colour and developed the Ostwald Colour System’. His colour circle consisted of a sequence of 24 hues, divided into 8 groups of 3 (yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, turquoise, seagreen and leaf green) and was first published in 1916 as ‘Die Farbenfibel’ – The Colour Primer. He also published a periodical, 'Die Farbe', which translates simply as, ‘Colour’.

Ostwald tried to standardise colour schemes through measurement and hoped to establish laws of colour harmony that would be adopted by schools, factories and art institutions worldwide.

His colour system was widely used for a few decades, but eventually proved too rigid to incorporate new colours as pigments and dyes of greater saturation were introduced onto the market.

The hunt's now on to find more of the Color Helm models!

Thu 19 Feb 2009

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Inspiration

5 Comments

Comments:

Make Do Style

02 Feb 2009 11:53 AM

Wow fantastic - it is such a great item and I love the history. I’ve been so busy with my essay writing to even comment but had to today as I want to see this for real!

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy

02 Feb 2009 06:34 PM

Oh my goodness, what a brilliant piece of design history. I want one! xx

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy

02 Feb 2009 06:35 PM

p.s. Wherever did you find this gem? xx

Delicious Industries

02 Feb 2009 11:09 PM

Top Bird - I got it from Ebay!! Can’t believe my luck, I was the only bidder and won it for $16 inc. postage from the US!!!! I’ll let you know if I see another smile

Anonymous

04 Apr 2012 11:00 AM

I would love one for my colour teaching in the Academy-
Norway-
let me know if you find more?

ML
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Welcome to the Delicious Industries blog. We're an independent design studio based in Brighton, UK and this is our scrapbook packed full of design, illustration, photography & typography inspiration. Check out our work here.

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