What were the old paper colors?
February 17, 2022 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Nostalgia question: At my school in the 80s in the US, the teachers occasionally used colored paper. There were only like 6 colors and they had standard specific names, like canary, goldenrod, and cobalt (nigh unreadable). There was a mint one, not sure if that was its name. They were not construction paper; they were not all pastel; if you've seen goldenrod or cobalt ykwim. Assuming this was a national distribution... Anyone happen to know the other colors and their names? And bonus: RGB values. Note, I'm NOT asking about pastel paper suppliers today.
posted by fleacircus to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the names of the other colors, but can confirm that they exist, and that my school specifically referred to those colors for a set of differently colored registration documents. The ones I dealt with were like yours, minus cobalt, plus a light blue and pink. Only names I recall were canary and goldenrod, which you've got covered (although pink might have just been pink).
posted by LionIndex at 2:46 PM on February 17, 2022

This 6-part carbonless copy paper calls its layers "Gold/Pink/Canary/Green/Blue/White" and I'm finding other carbon copy papers who use the term "goldenrod" instead of "gold." Is it possible that's what you're thinking of? I remember having to fill out forms in school on copy paper where one layer would go to the office, one to the teacher, one home to parents, etc.

The second product image on that amazon link has a picture you can grab the RGB values from if that matches your memory.
posted by arcolz at 2:53 PM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I remember this well, and I think the pink was called "salmon."
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:57 PM on February 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

Was Manila one of them? It was off-white and, as a kid, I thought it was"vanilla".
posted by Gray Duck at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Is it the same series as used in shooting script revisions: “ white, blue, pink, yellow, green, goldenrod, buff, salmon, cherry, tan, ivory, white (this time known as "double white"), and back to blue ("double blue").”?
posted by nonane at 4:04 PM on February 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

Wasn't that kind of paper used for mimeographs? I found this company by searching for "mimeograph goldenrod". They have a salmon color too, so maybe the other colors they have are the ones you're looking for. Orchid kind of rings a bell for me, too.
posted by Jess the Mess at 4:15 PM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Salmon rings a bell and that gross-ass color for it is very familiar! Orchid as well.

I suppose they were possibly printed by mimeograph, though these colors were common in other paper too (like TSR AD&D character sheets that I presume were printed normally). I'm not sure when photocopiers became a thing. At my high school they were much like normal paper though; I do not associate them with the flimsier paper and specific smell of things I knew were mimeographed. But it could have just been from a crappier older machine/process.

I imagine that "goldenrod" was a color you made if you sold color paper because other colored paper had that color, and not like, a specific kind of paper that had goldenrod and so I must be thinking of that kind of paper.
posted by fleacircus at 5:08 PM on February 17, 2022

Best answer: These are the Hammermill copy paper color names! Still available today, even though that wasn't your question. The line includes canary, buff, goldenrod, orchid, cherry, lilac, and some plain old blue, green, pink. I don't remember the cobalt you reference, but it may just be lost to time. I don't have RBG codes but you can probably decipher them from the images at the link above.
posted by amelioration at 5:45 PM on February 17, 2022 [22 favorites]

I remember them from school and work. I hated NCR paper!
posted by james33 at 5:48 AM on February 18, 2022

Wasn’t there some kind of chemical reaction where if you sprayed the goldenrod paper with windex, it looked like it was bleeding red?
posted by panama joe at 6:59 AM on February 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

The complete Hammermill names [pdf] are: Blue, Buff Canary, Cherry, Color, Cream, Goldenrod, Gray, Green, Ivory, Lilac, Orchid, Pink, Salmon, Tan, Turquoise.

Sure beats the white or x-ray paper (yellow) that was all my country had in the 70s ...
posted by scruss at 12:41 PM on February 18, 2022

Response by poster: for posterity the rgbs i got from eyedroppering an amazon page are

blue ....... aedee4
buff ....... ffe681
canary ..... fef9b8
cherry ..... f599b0
cream ...... fffbe8
goldenrod .. ffd551
gray ....... d6d7db
green ...... b4dcc1
ivory ...... fff4d8
lilac ...... f1c7e0
orchid ..... c7d5ef
pink ....... fbc7cb
salmon ..... faaa8f
tan ........ f3ddb8
turquoise .. a4d8d1

I think they're probably all too pale.
posted by fleacircus at 8:15 PM on February 20, 2022

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