the color of medieval text

samuel_b's picture

In medieval text there seems to be a frequent use of red and blue lettering. Does anyone recreating medieval texts (or imitating them in advertising, book cover design, etc.) have a standard Pantone color that best represents these? Absolute precision isn't necessary; I'm just trying to invoke the (admittedly large and diverse) era through the color of the text.

(By the way, there is a Pantone "medieval blue" but it is darker than the typical blue used in medieval texts, which is more like this.)

bojev's picture

Pantone Process Color ZPOA-C seems to match the blue in a fragment of a Spanish Hymnbook page I have on my wall.

riccard0's picture

The “medieval blue” you link to is a fabric colour swatch, it’s meant for clothes and curtains, not manuscripts :-)
You could ask to the nice people over at ( which do a fine job at reproducing medieval texts (see and

Té Rowan's picture

That blue could be a cornflower blue.

oldnick's picture

The page from a church missal which I own, printed in Venice in 1521, is strictly black and PMS485 Red.

russellm's picture

I am sure I'll be corrected if wrong but a likely colourant would have been ultra marine blue (ground lapis lazuli) which appears to be between Pantone 653 C or 634 (I'd say on the lighter side since an ink would a transparent wash that would allow the white of the substrate to show through.

Té Rowan's picture

@russellm – Hmm... that may be what I was thinking of even though I was sure it was a cornflower blue.

JamesM's picture

Are you printing on non-white background to simulate age? The ink color will be affected if its printed on colored stock. Same thing if a background color is printed on white paper and then colored text overprints it (unless the background color is knocked out under the type).

A good print shop should be willing to do an ink drawdown (test) for you by applying the PMS ink to a swatch of the actual stock. Based on the results they can tweak the ink color a bit, if necessary, before printing begins.

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