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The Colour Blue in Historic Shipbuilding: From Antiquity to Modern Times

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THE COLOUR BLUE IN HISTORIC SHIPBUILDING: From Antiquity to Modern Times

Joachim Muellerschoen

2019

19 cm x 27 cm format, 200 pages

190 illustrations, mostly color

SRP: 76.80

 

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Okay, raise your hand if, like me, your attention to the matter of which shade of blue to slap on a model is or was heavily influenced by whatever shade you happened to have on hand. Anybody? Well, perhaps I'm not quite as inattentive to detail as I've just suggested, but this book did enlighten me to the fact that there is blue, and then there is historically correct blue.

 

There are several things that you will notice about this nifty little volume when you first lay hold of it. First is that the title runs from bottom-to-top along the spine in the German fashion, which makes sense since the author is German. Happily for all of us English speakers, the English version of The Color Blue in Historic Shipbuilding has been nicely edited by native English-speaker (well, Canadian -- close enough 😉 ) David Antscherl, so it reads very well. Upon flipping the book open to any page, one notices a wealth of illustrations, consisting in the main of various models, paintings, full-size vessels, and artifacts that demonstrate the use of blue down through the ages. If you turn to the back of the book, you'll find eighteen pages of references, which show that Dr. Muellerschoen is no slouch when it comes to doing thorough research, and the depth and breadth of the information he provides is proof of that. And finally, something that is not immediately obvious is that this very nice looking book is self-published and shows the high quality of product that is now possible when choosing this particular publishing option.

 

The title of the book is perhaps a little misleading, but not in a bad way. The discussion is not strictly limited to the use of blue in shipbuilding, but covers a number of related topics as well, beginning first of all with historical context. I found it particularly interesting to learn that some cultures had no word for blue, or else lumped it in with green and/or gray. Today of course we associate blue with royalty, but Dr. Muellerschoen shares some fascinating insight on how very much differently blue was viewed, figuratively, by ancient cultures, citing diverse examples from Egypt to East Asia and points in between.

 

The history of blue is followed by the science of blue, with particular attention given to the sources of various blue pigments. It's very interesting to learn some of the history of these pigments and goes some ways toward explaining why we see particular shades of blue in different time periods and locations.

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Dr. Muellerschoen also devotes page space to describing how blue was used in applications other than shipbuilding such as architecture and various forms of art. Not surprisingly, as Dr. Muellerschoen points out, blue and other colors were used in ways that might seem rather strange to our western notions of color, shade, and hue.

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The bulk of the book, as the title suggests, is devoted to an overview of blue in shipbuilding, from ancient times to 'modern', i.e. the early 19th century. This survey covers not only European conventions but those of other cultures as well, including examples from the Mediterranean, the Far East and elsewhere. There is something of interest here for builders of just about every kind of wooden ship construction out there. The photos in this section are a wealth of images of modern and contemporary models, preserved and reconstructed ships, and a good number and variety of contemporary paintings. This book is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to read.

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When the publication of this book was first announced, there were a few people who wondered aloud just how much could be written about such a seemingly narrow and esoteric subject. Folks needn't have worried -- Dr. Muellerschoen has produced a very engaging and attractive volume that is deserving of a place in any nautical history buff's library.

 

Thanks to Dr. Muellerschoen for providing this copy for review. To purchase, head over to http://www.modellbau-muellerschoen.de/buch-en.htm.

 

CDC

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Thank you very much, Chris, for this fantastic review. I am very happy that the book could be presented in this great forum. 


The book is available in regular bookstores, but many wholesalers (including Amazon) don't deliver to all countries. For this reason the book can also be ordered directly from me.

So, order here: 
http://www.modellbau-muellerschoen.de/buch-en.htm

 

or send an e-mail directly to my address:

info@modellbau-muellerschoen.de

 

Best regards, 
Joachim

 

Edited by schiffebastler

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