Colour Chart

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When discussing about colours we always must have in mind:

  1. That we cannot remember colours, so we have to describe them, we have to use synonyms or analogies (or nowadays colour-codes like RAL, Pantone, RGB, CMYK). The words chosen in the past are quite a really good hint: brick-red, jonquille-yellow, caput mortum, antwerpen-blue... Some libraries supply colour-guides or colour-atlas with numbered samples and comparatative lists of names used in the past. This is a rare but very good source, probably the second best after the own eye-whitness of real textiles or sample-books in museums.
  2. In the second half of the 18th century some new colours appeared, following fashion-trends: bleu-mourant, pale green, pale pink, linzer-yellow - and of course they were chosen for distinguishing between the numerous regiments. Here fashion met practical military sense (this led to some of the most unusual but highly attractive designed colour-combinations).
  3. Colouring varies because of the process, the result is the better the earlier in the process the colouring is done. Wool can be coloured as wool, as spinned reels and as woven textile, quality differs in respect to equality of results.
  4. It was always a question of price, officers ordered much better textiles than privates because they could afford it. For the mass of soldiers in the 18th century much more cheaper quality textiles were brought. Regiment chief could save a lot of money! On the other hand, regiments tried to fit really good uniforms to their musicians, ensigns, NCOs....
  5. Colours vary on different basic-materials: wool, linen, silk, cotton, and leather accept the colours in different ways. This results in differing appearance!
  6. Unbleeched textiles (the natural tone) may change its colour after washing and exposure in sunlight. So there must have been differences in the appearance of a regiment with brand new uniforms in comparison to regiments wearing old uniforms in continuous service. This should be taken into account, especially with Austrian or French uniforms.
  7. Some colour-groups in our culture are more common than others: we have only one word for the colours around orange but dozens of words describing all kinds of red and blue-tones. This may show how much cultural care was kept on this things in the past.
  8. Contemporary dyeing processes did not fix colours very firmly and uniform colours tended to fade rather quickly.


Here is an attempt to create a standardized color chart. Alternative names are noted in foreign languages, where possible. These will be organized by hues: reds, greens, yellows, blues, etc. Names are given in various languages, each language separated by a forward slash. Languages in order are English, then German, French, Spanish, etc.

A note on the color coordinates: these are for their appearance on cloth--usually wool--rather than on idealized web colors. The latter tend to be much too bright compared to real-life equivalents. This is notably the case with scarlet, though other brighter colors here also have this trend. It cannot be emphasized sufficiently that these are approximations. Some are based on actual illustrations--or even surviving uniforms--but these still fall under the issues noted above.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
madder red/Krapprot/Garance/Encarnandas or Garanza   182 32 38 C. E. Franklin Often called "brick red" in reference to British uniforms; a pink-red color. If an army distinguishes between ponceau and "red", this would be the latter. Will fade to a dusty rose color, or brownish-crimson color.
Carmine/Carmoisinrot   180 43 70 Prussian infantry uniforms, 1806; Bavarian Uhlan uniform, 1910 This is what the continenet referred to as Crimson; the British had a different color in mind; this is a deeper and more vivid shade of Madder red. Actual color ranges from this to a deep pink color, depending on time and circumstance.
Light carmine/Hellcarmoisinrot/Couleur de chair   201 75 84 Prussian Infantry uniform, 1806; depiction of IR 41, 1757 Roughly the color of a raw steak; can be slightly more purple or pink in hue.
Crimson/Bordeauxrot(?)   151 26 56 C.E.Franklin This is the british meaning for crimson.
Amaranth   229 43 80 Wikipedia
Brick red/(Hell)Ziegelrot   227 54 17 - Not to be confused with British "brick red"; a red-orange color. This is the approximate facing color Baron von Schönaich Cuirassiers
English red   212 61 26 La boite a couleurs possible color of Russian artillery uniform\
Poppy Red/Poncearot or Mohnrot/Ponceau   192 37 30 A duller and slightly deeper version of scarlet; apparently most common Prussian facing color. Often fades to an orange color (As shown on surviging uniform of Buddenbrok Cuirassiers).
Dark Red   105 39 41 Austrian uniform guide, 1905
Lobster or Crab Red/Krebsrot   250 93 76 Austrian uniform guide, 1905
Pink/Rosa or Rosenrot   255 108 189 - depictions of IR 40, from between 1759 and 1806
Ventre de Biche   233 201 177
pale red/Blassrot   254 103 102
Scarlet/Scharlachtrot   209 40 32 Based on Morier's depiction of various british officers and horse color varied signifigantly over time, and becomes slighty more orange over the course of the 18th century. "mock" or "half" scarlet simply refers to slightly duller and lower quality versions of this color (still brighter than Poppy red)
flame red/Feuerrot   175 43 30 RAL A color whose hue is between poppy red and scarlet. may possibly be the same as poppy red.

Yellows and Oranges

Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Light Orange/Aurore   255 203 96
Bright yellow   249 225 10
Orange   244 104 11
Ochre (yellow)   234 162 33 Wikipedia
Jonquil or Naples Yellow   250 218 94 Wikipedia
light Yellow/ Hellgelb   252 234 93 Prussian infantry uniforms, 1806 possibly the same as pale yellow
Lemon Yellow   250 236 23 RAL, sample of German uniform, 1806 Prussian uniforms Exact color of a fresh lemon
Pale yellow   251 244 166 -
Yellow   250 200 39 British uniforms
philamot yellow   236 191 30 C.E.Franklin The painting of the 13th by Morier depicts the unit prior to switching to this color; prior to then, the unit had deep yellow facings.
Deep yellow/Kaisergelb   244 174 29 Karsten, 1759, Hanoverian uniforms Kaisergelb in English literature can also be translated as Gamboge; comparison between the "golden yellow" of Hanoverian uniforms with British uniforms matches best those regimetns with deep yellow. Later iterations are brighter (See Austrian uniform guide, 1905), but these postdate the period.
Saffron Yellow   244 196 48 Wikipedia possible the same, or similar to deep yellow
Feuille Morte   153 81 43 -
Sulfur yellow/Scwefelgelb   235 232 103 Prussian Infatnry units, 1806; Austrian uniform guide, 1905 a greenish yellow color.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Green   34 146 69 C.E.Franklin
Apple green/Apfelgrün   135 145 45 Hanoverian Horse Regiment v. Dachenhausen color of an unripened apple(?), or similar to a pale verdegris. More research required.
Bottle Green/Flaschegrün   27 77 62
Full Green   32 103 153, Morier's painting of a grenadier of the 11th regiment, 1750
Pale green (British)   45 113 102 C.E.Franklin
Deep green   0 84 61 Triangulated based on green and very deep green C.E.Frankling gives a different shade; however, this appears too light and pale to be correct. Admittedly this is a matter of judgement.
Very deep green   0 84 61 C.E.Franklin
Grass Green/Graßgrün   69 132 62 C.E.Franklin
Gosling Green   94 157 68 painting of a Grenadier of the 5th regiment of foot, 1750; C.E. Franklin initially called "Gooseturd Green"
Russian green?   0 71 31 Joachim Schultz
Sage green   134 158 98 Wiktionary
Sea Green/Meergrün   3 97 103 C.E.Franklin, referenced with depiction of grenadier of 2nd Regiment of foot
Willow Green   55 56 38 C.E.Franklin
Yellowish Green   171 207 55 C.E.Franklin
Olive   128 128 0 Wikipedia
Poppinjay Green/Papageigrün   166 194 57 C.E.Franklin Also called Pappelgrün (poplar green) in German sources; a bright, yellow-green color.
Dark Green/   91 179 93 depiction of Hanoverian uniform, 1759; C.E.Franklin
Steel Green/Stahlgrün   75 99 75 Austrian uniform guide, 1905 deep grey-green color.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Light blue/Bleumorant oder Blassblau/ Bleumorant   22 116 146 - Ignaz Schiffermüller describes this color as a medium desaturated blue.
Cobalt Blue/Himmelblau   0 71 171 Wikipedia widely seen as the color of Prussian Dragoon uniforms; however, depictions of Dragoons from 1759 suggests they had sky blue coats; the cobalt blue coats are likely postwar.
Dark blue or blue-black/Dunkelblau/Bleu de Roi   13 29 52 C.E.Franklin; sample of Civil War Uniform Not all units described as having dark blue uniforms have this color; Prussian units would have had Prussian blue, as would most units in Germany with this description. It is however, the closest shade to what the Garde Francaises wore. It also is close to the color depicted for the uniform of French generals.
Cornflower or Hungarian blue/Ungarischblau   106 155 211 - Color of Bavarian coats from this period; earlier coats are a darker shade of blue.
Medium Blue (Swedish)   35 69 202 Sample of the Swedish lifeguard uniform
Medium Blue/Ganzblau oder Mittleblau   27 57 78 Hanoverian infantry, 1759; Ignaz Schiffermüller, 1771
Pale blue(British)/Tuerkisblau/Azul Tarqui   76 95 137 C.E. Franklin
Prussian blue/Dunkelblau   0 49 83 Wikipedia
Royal Blue (French)?   23 77 133 Depiction of Grenadier de France Uniform, 1757 similar to Prussian blue, but brighter. Has also been compared to Steel Blue. This blue is taken from period depictions of the Grenadiers de France; however, this might have been mistaken, based on surviving painting of [1]Broglie, and a few other generals in uniform. These indicate that the color was really a very deep shade of blue, as it was in Britain.
Royal Blue (British)   19 31 71 C.E.Franklin A deep blue, with slight purplish hue. Might actually be postwar (1765 onward). If so, blue-black is more appropriate for Royal regiments.
Saxon blue   93 127 190 A deeper, somewhat desaturated sky blue; color of Union army pants.
Sky Blue/Himmelblau   113 176 229 Wikipedia a bright shade of blue.
Steel blue/Hellblau(?)   70 130 180 Wikipedia Possible color of Hanoverian artillery coats; might have also been Hechtgrau.
Sapphire blue/Franzblau   30 90 125 Deutschmeister Regiment, Albertina Handschrift, 1762 A deep, somewhat saturated shade of blue. Variations can be very similar to dark blue (Prussian Blue).
Lavender blue   108 119 181 - Polish guard facing color; similar to pale blue/Azul Tarqui, and may even be the same.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Pompadeur purple   84 48 60 sample of cuff of a British officer's uniform Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année, illustrates the French Regiment Belzunce with facings of this color.
Pompadeur Rose   163 29 81


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Yellowish-buff   252 248 201 - Often translated from German to "yellow-Straw" or "straw-yellow"
Pale brown   152 118 84 Wikipedia
Pale buff/Blaßpaille   253 246 228 C.E.Frankling; Prussian uniform depiction from 1806 Often translated from German to "pale straw"; often depicted as a near-white color, or simply left unpainted.
Dark Brown   101 67 33 Wikipedia
Buff/Paille   253 225 178 C.E.Frankling; Author's personal buff crossbelt the German term literally means "straw", but correspends to English Buff. It and other shades of buff vary considerably.
Fawn   149 128 112 -
Chamois   223 199 121 Prussian infantry uniforms, 1806 A shade of buff.


Colour name Sample Red Green Blue Sources notes
Slate Grey   47 79 79 Wikipedia deep, cyan-grey color.
Pike Grey/Hechtgrau   141 169 197 Austrian Uniform guide, 1905 color of Austrian Jaeger uniform. Can also be considered a shade of blue.
Ash Grey/Aschgrau   182 196 187 Wikipedia A bright, slightly green shade of grey; color of fully-burned wood ash.
Dark Grey   52 52 51
iron Grey   67 75 77 - Deep, slightly bluish grey.
light Grey   173 165 162
Medium Grey   101 193 90
Black   33 30 30 - Pure black as generally understood was very rare prior to industrial dyes.
White (natural)   235 231 219 - Bleached white wool was expensive, and reserved for the well-off.
Pearl Grey   208 208 201 - general color of wool; also considered grey-white.


  1. Philemot yellow and Feuille Morte may in fact be one in the same color, or have similar descriptive meanings (i.e. describing the color od dead leaves). If so, the different interpretations of this color may be related to the uneven dying of the period, a difference in shade between continental European and British definitions.
  2. Some confusion exists regarding the nature of Bottle, Rifle, and Deep green: They may be one in the same, or three similar shades of green.
  3. Strangely, Contemporary depictions of regiments faced in "grass green" (e.g., 36th regiment of foot), reveal color much darker than expected for the term. This is supported by the 1905 Austrian Uniform guide, which also defines the color as a shade of darker green.
  4. according to the research of Kochan and Phillips, Popinjay Green and Gosling Green may have been referring to the same color.
  5. Regarding "straw"; period depictions of units described as wearing straw--Notably those of Hanoverian units--often show a color similar to the buff leather equipment they may wear.


Austrian Uniform guide,

C.E. Franklin, 2012, British Army Uniforms from 1751 to 1783, Pen & Sword Books Ltd.

David Morier, 1751, Paintings of Various soldiers for the Duke of Cumberland,

Kochan and Phillips, 2013,

Prussian Infantry uniforms of 1806,


Ibrahim90 for the initial version of this article and Joachim Schulz for the initial version of the introduction.