Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

2016 Edition
| Editors: Ming Ronnier Luo

Lovibond, Joseph Williams

  • Mark D. Fairchild
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8071-7_304

Joseph Lovibond was a British chemist and brewer and is credited with inventing the commercial colorimetry, the Lovibond Tintometer. In Lovibond’s Light and Colour Theories [1], we read “the writer was formerly a brewer, and this work had its origin in an observation that the finest flavour of beer was always associated with a colour technically called ‘golden amber,’ and that, as the flavour deteriorated, so the colour assumed a reddish hue.” Such observations of the relationships between beer quality and observed color led Lovibond to his work on color standards as a reliable means of reference and to the development of an instrument, the visual colorimeter, in which such standards could be systematically and objectively applied.

The general form of the Lovibond Tintometer was a visual colorimeter in which a split field is viewed. One half of the split field represented the test sample, perhaps a cuvette of beer placed in a beam of light. The other side of the split field was composed of subtractive primaries of adjustable density (e.g., a series of cyan, magenta, yellow, and neutral glass filters) that could be adjusted to select the density and overlapped one another in the adjacent beam of light. By adjusting the density of the filters, observers would match the test color stimulus and record the densities of the standard filters required for the match. Note again that the Tintometer system was one of subtractive color mixing of standard materials rather than the more common additive color mixing of standard lights typically found in visual colorimetry.

While brewing beer might have been the motivation for the Tintometer, by 1914, the system was in use in a wide variety of additional industries including tanning, wine and spirits, dyeing and printing, paint, water chemistry, ceramics, various oils, and hematology. In many cases, specific versions of the instrument and the reference standards were produced for a given application. The system was also presented with a number of awards by international juries (including two gold, five silver, and two bronze medals) along with significant recognition from ten scientific societies (one gold, three silver, and five bronze medals and a diploma). Lovibond worked tirelessly in promoting his system through lectures and demonstrations around the world. He created a technically successful system that also met with commercial success. In fact, The Tintometer Limited still exists to this day with products such as color standards and scales, visual colorimeters (including versions of the Lovibond Tintometer), and photoelectric colorimeters and spectrophotometers. For example, one can still purchase instruments and standard color scales designed for American (ASBC) and European (EBC) methods of specifying beer color. Lovibond’s initial inspiration is still being addressed by the progeny of his instruments using his very techniques.

In the history of The Tintometer Limited, it is stated that “The Company was founded in 1885 by Joseph Lovibond, a prominent brewery owner who developed the ‘colorimeter’ as a means of ensuring the quality of his beer. By 1893 he had perfected his research and introduced the first instruments. Much has developed since then. Today, the company is bringing colour measurement to the next generation. While still recognizing the importance of traditional methods, The Tintometer Ltd is introducing new techniques to bring measurement and quality control to an even higher level, developing creative solutions to ensure the continued reputation of the Lovibond® brand” [2].


  1. 1.
    Lovibond, J.W.: Light and Colour Theories and Their Relation to Light and Colour Standardization. E. & F. N Spon, Haymarket, London (1921)Google Scholar
  2. 2.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of ScienceRochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA