Last week a couple of contractors in a cherry picker repainted the orangeish-yellow support brackets for the Walk/Don't Walk signs on my corner:
It never occurred to me that those colors are regulated by the government, but of course they are. And as the Washington Post reports, our government doesn't mess with Pantone; instead they've got their own internal system, sexily named Federal Standard 595C - Colors Used in Government Procurement.
The government started trying to regulate colors around World War I--you can read a lengthy history on the process here--and today the hues of everything from aircraft carriers to highway signs to post office mailboxes all boil down to just 650 color chips.
You can view all of the chips here, but only some of the colors are listed with names, and some of those names are unmistakably American in style--like "15450 Air Superiority Blue." For real.
For descriptions of what colors belong to what objects, as we've listed in the six samples above, you'll have to click here. At that latter link you can also order physical chips, and boy, going after government contracts ain't cheap--they cost 50 freaking dollars per chip, or you can order the whole set for $1,250.
But, if you're just creating some in-computer renderings and trying to get the exact shade of green the Department of Transportation uses on their highway signs, you can just hit the link above and use Photoshop's handy eyedropper tool.
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Superseded by Aerospace Material Specification Standard 595
"Colors Used in U.S. Government Procurement"
The full set is now: Price: $4,995.00
Fortunately, we have States Rights, and those Walk signs don't have to conform to Federal Standard 595C -- just NY State Department of Transportation standards ;-)
People who are into scale military models know about the Federal Standard paint specs. By the way, Air Superiority Blue was designed as a low visibility sky camouflage color for U.S. combat aircraft, first applied to the F-15 in the '70s.