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Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Colour measurement and mixture, by Captain W. de W. Abney
London, Brighton, New York : Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1891

The civil servant and photographic scientist Sir William de Wiveleslie Abney (1843-1920) served in the Royal Engineers, becoming Captain in 1873. He later worked for the Board of Education, advising on science in schools, and was knighted in 1900. In 1909 he became lecturer on colour vision at Imperial College of Science and Technology in London.

Abney was particularly interested in colour photography and the relationship between biological and mechanical optical devices. He investigated the sensitivity of the eye to light and colour and gave popular lectures on these subjects. Colour measurement… was based on lectures given at the Society of Arts and was part of the ‘Romance of Science’ series of books written for the general public.

Abney was a member of the Royal Society Committee on Colour-Vision appointed in 1890, and sight tests were carried out in his large colour vision laboratory in South Kensington Museum. The Committee aimed first to establish the existence of colour blindness and then to work on assessing colour vision and on recommending standards for the testing of industrial workers.


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