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Thread: Meaning of colours on maps?

  1. #1
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    Meaning of colours on maps?



    Especially when I look at older maps (pre WWII), I notice that some countries are repeatedly drawn in the same colours. For instance Great Britain and it's possessions in pink, Prussia or Germany in blue, Russia in green, Italy in orange etc...

    Does anyone know if there is a reason behind this or if these colours have any special meaning? I've been searching for an answer for some while now, but even the internet doesn't give much information on that.

    One lousy explanation I gave myself to the colour of Great Britain is some synthesis of the Houses of York and Lancaster. And for some reason Prussia has always been associated with the colour blue, although I couldn't find any blue in the Hohenzollern emblem. Netherlands and orange makes sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    Especially when I look at older maps (pre WWII), I notice that some countries are repeatedly drawn in the same colours. For instance Great Britain and it's possessions in pink, Prussia or Germany in blue, Russia in green, Italy in orange etc...

    Does anyone know if there is a reason behind this or if these colours have any special meaning? I've been searching for an answer for some while now, but even the internet doesn't give much information on that.

    One lousy explanation I gave myself to the colour of Great Britain is some synthesis of the Houses of York and Lancaster. And for some reason Prussia has always been associated with the colour blue, although I couldn't find any blue in the Hohenzollern emblem. Netherlands and orange makes sense.
    This is probably due to the military sphere.

    Russia


    Prussia


    Britain


    Sweden.

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    I think it is also related to the colour of military uniforms and flags, or in some cases the national colour (orange in the Netherlands). Many of those colours have been inherited in national sport team (e.g. red for England, blue for France, orange for the Netherlands).
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    Well, there could be another explanation.

    In the Netherlands farmers produced "madder". Or "meekrap" in Dutch (Rubia tinctorum).
    The roots of this plant were used for a red/orange/purple dye.



    The same goes for Prussian blue:

    Brief description of Prussian blue:
    Dark blue, called the first of the modern pigments. It has very high tinting strength but is only fairly permanent to light and air. It's an Iron-hexacyanoferrate accidentally formed while experimenting with the oxidation of iron. The pigment was available to artists by 1724 and was extremely popular throghout the three centuries since its discovery.
    I suggest that mapmakers could have used the pigments of the countries they knew for the colors of those territories.

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