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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Colors, stencils, ..., normalized ?


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I beg your pardon if i don't write very well English.

Below, an image to illustrate 3 questions.


A lot of factories will produce ammunitions, crates, packages, ...

All products must be normalized. (?)

So,  because colors names are suggestive and can be interpretate differently depending on the person.

In ww1, Is there something like a color pantone bridge to normalize colors used ?

And about text and letters sizes:

In ww1, Is there a stencil normalized and size letters normalized ?


And finally, if it's normalized, how or where to find normalized stencils and colors normalized ?


Many thanks if you can help.

It can help me to make good 3D views.








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14 hours ago, Yves said:

And about text and letters sizes:

In ww1, Is there a stencil normalized and size letters normalized ?

I think that the height of the stencil letters are in imperial sizes. By this I mean inches.The smallest may be 1/4 inch high and going up in quarters. 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/4, 1 1/2 etc.  If you find a picture of a box and you know the size of the box, then by simple scale of size you should be able to determine the size of the stencil. As I believe you have done with the pictures of shells you have made. Great work. Regards, Bob. PS; @303man man posted a picture of boxes, this may give you an idea?

Edited by Bob Davies
to add a PS.
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Bonne question, Yves!


"Grey" is grey, "Dark Green" is dark green, but

"Dark yellow": is that a shade darker than plain "yellow"? Or two shades darker? Or is it "Greyish yellow" or "Yellowish Grey" perhaps?

"Dove Grey": if you're a city-slicker and you have never seen a dove in your life, how are you supposed to know what colour this is?


Describing a colour is indeed suggestive.

In philately you have the Stanley Gibbons Colour Key to distinguish between "Bluish Green" and "Greenish Blue", "Reddish Purple" and "Purplish Red"  etc. (I never got the hang of it, but it can make a húge difference in the value of your stamps!)



I think what Yves is asking (Correct me if I'm wrong! Corrigez-moi je vous prie si j'ai tort! ): was there a specific colour chart/code used for war-time manufacture? Or was it left to the manufacturers' own interpretation.

And was the stenciling done in one particular, nation-wide, font, or did the manufacturers have free reign?



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11 hours ago, JWK said:

Bonne question, Yves!

Merci JWK


About letters size, Bob Davies give me the way to find the letter size.

But, about font-police, letter spacing, font-weight, font-family, ...

Is there one specific model or more ?

And JWK resume it perfectly (colors & stencil(s) )


11 hours ago, JWK said:


I think what Yves is asking (Correct me if I'm wrong! Corrigez-moi je vous prie si j'ai tort! ): was there a specific colour chart/code used for war-time manufacture? Or was it left to the manufacturers' own interpretation.

And was the stenciling done in one particular, nation-wide, font, or did the manufacturers have free reign?



C'est exactement ma pensée.

You're in my mind JWK, it's exactly that i want to know.



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I have found this to be a very interesting question.

Anecdotally, and without any sources to back up the assertion, I got the impression there were not forerunners to today's colour standards, such as pantone colour bridge, AFNOR X 08-010, US Federal Standard FS 595a, or British Standards BS 4800.

Likewise, I had never really considered stencilled letters being in a standard font.

I have come across the following description of packing of crates for tinned food


The case was also to be marked with the description and the nett weight of the contents, the initials of the contractor, the month and year of packing, the month and year of the expiry of the warranty period, all this to be in one-inch-high [25.4 mm] characters in good oil paint or stencil ink, in the middle of one side. They were also to be marked in 1.25 inch [31.75 mm] characters in light royal blue, "RASC SUPS" (Royal Army Service Corps - Supplied) horizontally and centrally about one inch from the upper edge on both the top and bottom and on each end.

Page 106, Chapter 6 "After the Boer War"

From Boiled Beef to Chicken Tikka: 500 Years of Feeding the British Army

By Janet Macdonald


The quote above would seem to suggest some free rein / flexibility, and no existing standard colour scheme or standard of font stencils.


Hope this is of interest


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1 hour ago, Keith_history_buff said:

I have come across the following description of packing of crates for tinned food

Well found Kieth :-) Having had a think on this subject, The Tank museum at Bovington, Dorset, UK may have some answers @Yves. The tank museum has WW1 tanks and they must have a wealth of knowledge regarding painting and marking/stenciling. They have a Face Book page as well as their normal web page. I believe they are closed at the moment but you may get some answers if you describe what you are doing Yves. Best of luck, Bob. https://www.tankmuseum.org/home

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Merci Bob Davies, i'll send a message to tank museum.

If they give me answers, i'll put them on this topic.


Merci également à Keith history buff.


On my side, have found some informations, like this about stencils :



What do you think about this stencil ? Is it a normalized stencil use in British Army ?


Merci @Bob Davies et à @Keith_history_buff pour m'accorder votre aide et partager votre expérience et vos connaissances.







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Hello Yves, happy to help where possible.

In the english language, the correct term is either "standardised" or "standardized", depending upon British english or American english. The use of the word "normalise / normalize" is a technical term concerning relation database design in english. I hope you have not had the displeasure of Boyce Codd normalization.

Anecdotally, and without source materials to back this up, I got the impression that the cloth of uniforms, and the colours on tin helmets, be they British or French, had some degree of variation. Whilst I can imagine that a variation in raw materials could have contributed, I do not imagine there being a quality control inspector who would reject an otherwise serviceable colour of a crate, uniform or tin helmet because the colour had a 2% deviance from a standard. 

I can, however, in this day and age, imagine that a defence procurement agency makes a request that a very specific colour is to be used (i.e. FS 33070), and a near equivalent is used instead (FS 30097 which is a similar shade of khaki), then the supplier should be made to amend their goods, to confirm with the specifics of that contract.

In the same manner that uniforms have a "pattern" that is made, I did wonder if there was something similar in respect of packaging for munitions, foodstuffs etc within the Ministry of Munitions files. The quote in my prior comment on this thread does suggest there was nothing so stringent in the period 1902 to 1914.

Cordialement votre

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Here's one reproduction interpritation for you.



ammo crates II.jpg

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Un grand merci David @GRANVILLE

(So sorry for my english spoken, written) have no time this morning to do better.


It help me a lot, with the location of the labels, colors, rope fixation, ...

And about colors, i think because there is no standardised colors, and because i've to have some references, i've make a tool to help me to have a big data bank of colors.

Because light is different on box, and because i don't want to waste time calculatng the averages of the measurements (pipette tool), i made my own tool that allows me to have information quickly.

So your image David help me a lot to moving forward.

If i take a part of the image :




Put image in my tool, give me quick answer :



May be it's not perfect, but t help me a lot to create data bank of colors, and with multiple photo of different grenade box n°36, i'll have an average result, close to something good.

This image bellow give some informations :




1 - the part of your image

2 - some colors found in image 1 (order by percentage found)

3 - result of mixing color

4 - i've putted a background color same as 3, i think it's close of the photo colors and hope it's close to your box color.

5 - a number to create a database and make search of objects, and mix again colors when i'll have more photo of boxes of grenades n°36.


It's an inline tool create yesterday afternoon.

Nothing is save on the server, it's only client-side.


If someone want to create is own database or share colors, the link is http://glayve.com/GWF/

Happy if it can help somebody ( reduce model creator, 3D modeler, collector, ...).


The colors are given in r,g,b (Red Green Blue) easy to convert (Hex, ...)


I'll made a tool for tissus (seams, meshes, colors ).

And another one about marking, engraving.



About stencils, because there is no standardised stencils, and because i've to have some references, i've beginning to make copy (close to reality, i hope).

With this link (last image on page),



i've created a copy in .svg

(Vectoriel) Can be scalable and adjustable in all sizes (mm, inch,...), can be easily redraw.

The result in matriciel is :




If someone need a copy in .svg, just send a pm.

Will share all next stencils that i'll do.


Even if there is no standardised colors or stencils, we can do something.


Encore un très grand merci à David, you can't imagine how you have helped me with your image . Merci David.

Et un très grand merci à Keith pour son aide précieuse.  It's why i have made the tool, to don't loose time to find something who may be don't exist.






Nota : But i'll continue to search



Because a friend ask me some questions.


Why i take only a part of image ?

Because some details or colors around generate bad result.


The better format to upload image ?

.png because .jpg make compression (a destructive compression).


Is the result good (close to reality colors) ?

I think, but really don't know, have made the tool quickly. (for quick result)


An other exemple ?

You can try online, it's free, but i can do another one to show.

Ammo box, i take a part of image


Put in the tool, give me :



Mix image and result color :




Et voilà.





















Edited by Yves
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A very interesting post, Yves, thanks for sharing with us. I see you are doing a lot of hard work, in creating your own "WW1 colour standard".

It has got me thinking about this. Whilst there does not appear to be a standard from that time, there are modelling websites and paint manufacturers that do offer either products in a given shade, or a proposed "range" of colours in respect of uniform colours, aircraft camouflage shades etc. Perhaps there could be some pointers as to specific shades among these.







To go slightly off-topic, it would appear there were standardised colours for the Royal Navy by 1939, but not in 1914-1918. Battleship Grey does not appear to have a definitive and standard ton in 1914.



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Bonjour Keith,


I'll share the colors, but it's so early, haven't not still enough data to create a comparative and efficient library.

About camo, i'll share something made in a french military workshop in Amiens during WW1.

A set of colored tissus, used as reference for teams who make camo.

Can't access to these tissus now, but will share when it will possible.


Have some Steel master magazine, will check if i can found some informations.


Bonne journée and thanks for the links.




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Your photo at post #1 seems to show Mills Grenade crates only but crates for the No 27, 28 and 29 were different. Mainly in width but also internally.


Here are two images from the book 'Grenade' by Rick Landers showing boxes for the 27 and 28 grenades.DSCN4964.JPG.4a1a07511d6cd238e6f7c0900437963b.JPGDSCN4963.JPG.690fc165d0de2ef60e0df5c82b540d32.JPG

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Many thinks to learn.

Merci beaucoup @Gunner Bailey, i'm working on labels (on crate), but you help me a lot. Particularly with images. And on the 2nd image, there's dimensions on the lid. More easy to find dimensions with this.

Super  :)


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Yves, I'm wondering if you are aware of the website tommyspackfillers.com? See: http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/showitem.asp?itemRef=VS050 From here you can purchase reproduction labels and plans on how to make reproduction ammunition boxes - this is how I produced the one shown. If you search the site you will also see images of finished ammunition boxes, with the labels on etc.

I don't recall any definitive advice on what colour to use - I think this is a very speculative area although the use of pink on the handles of the type I made, is well understood and as far as I recall from previous discussions on the subject, the distinctive colours such as pink, were used to overcome issues which could arise where personnel could not actually read the information on the labels, i.e. they may well be illiterate or possibly overseas labour brought in who simply could not read English etc.

I note you are giving RGB colour values for. Don’t forget to also give them in CMYK, should anyone want to print a swatch out etc.

Here also is another set of crates I have produced from the Tommys Pack Filler instructions and label set.



Ammo crates I.jpg

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Yes, i've seen the website tommyspackfillers, a lot of very good informations, but for somebody who is not a specialist, images are very small to understand or see lot of details.


About CMYK, ok, but itsn't something i know (never used before).

If you told me about hex colors, or colors used on computer or internet language, i know very well. (i think)


Haven't got a lot of time, but

I've found some informations about how to convert rgb in cmyk, and have made code to convert (I haven't rounded because i don't know if it's important.

Tell me if it's what you want :



Haven't got lot of time, (check delay between your post and my reponse), have make something quickly, but if i've well understanding conversion, it's good.


Merci beaucoup.





Look like good, test with same image, and check results in an other website. But tell me.





Edited by Yves
Because i speak not well english, and bad image
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Yves, I'll reply to your two PMs so that others can pick the information up if they wish. I'm attaching two sketches of the two types of boxes and you will see their dimensions - all in imperial as I do not believe they would have been produced to metric measurements at the time. The rope handles of the .303 bandolier box is 1/2" diameter and I guesstimate each need to be 20" in lengths (not including the two knots on each end). The lid of the box is a very clever and quite specific design which I hope you can see clearly from the additional photographs. It is secured using a 'T' handle, long split pin and a length of string. The handle is an original and by rights it should sit neatly in a cut-out of the same shape in the top of the lid. I have never got round to having them chiselled out properly. The string is tied onto the 'T' and then passes into a hole in the top of the lid and is knotted off on the inside - the idea being that the 'T' and the split pin are not lost every time the box lid is opened. To show if it has been opened or not, the string is held down by a gummed label which is torn whenever the 'T' and split pin are pulled out.  


The grenade crate is of similar construction. The rope handles at each end want to be about 10" in length plus whatever it takes to tie them off. The rope used is all 1/4" diameter.

As a disclaimer, I have to point out that these were all made for a display and do not claim to be 100% authentic representations of the originals - just copies to the best of my limited abilities.


Concerning CMYK conversions, I think you will find that R74, G95 and B101 convert to: C69, M46,Y44 and K33. These conversions can be made easily with Indesign software, which I happen to make use of regularly, so if you want any other colours converting, just ask.


001 - Copy.JPG

002 - Copy.JPG

006 - Copy.JPG

007 - Copy.JPG

005 - Copy.JPG



004 - Copy.JPG

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