Duzer White ;ead

In a previous post I described the importance of the paint can in the history of house painting.  Rather than having to mix white lead, oil, pigments and driers in a bucket at the job site, painters and homeowners alike were able to buy cans of prepared and tinted paint. This not only made painting easier but it ensured the uniformity of color and quality.

This makes us wonder what colors of prepared paint were available.  A ca. 1879 catalog of the wholesaler S. R. Van Duzer  of New York City has a comprehensive list of colors which could be purchased in one gallon cans.  The list includes:

Inside White                                       Green Gray
Outside White                                    Flesh Color
Yellow Stone                                       Light Brown
Free stone                                            Flaxen Gray
Stone Color                                         French Gray
Buff Color                                            Light Drab
Light Gray                                           Dark Drab
Lavender                                              Light Lead
Silver Gray                                           Dark Lead
Pearl Color                                           Fawn
Yellow Gray                                         French Ochre
Flaxen Yellow                                      Venetian Red
Azure Blue                                            Brown
Pure Gray                                             Peach Color
Subdued Green                                   Vermillion
Red Gray                                               Chrome Yellow
Permanent Green                                Pea Green
Lilac                                                        Black
Light Blue                                              Dark Blue

This list of colors is actually quite large and varied.  It includes the natural stone, buff, gray and brown colors advocated by Andrew Jackson Downing and popular in 1840s through the 1860s.  It also has many of the greens and reds which were becoming popular during the 1870s.

Although it is nice to have a list of paint colors, the real trick is determining what each actually looked like.  We can do this by looking at contemporary paint recipes, sample paint chips, advertising and even artistic representations such as paintings.

Categories: paint


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