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Mar.†21, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 9

An orange-and-black tale

In response to: From Princetonís vault

Posted on March†19, 2012

Readers of the Feb. 8 issue of PAW enjoyed W. Barksdale Maynard ’88’s account of how the tiger became Princeton’s emblem. Orange and black, and all that.

However, there is a postscript to be made. The colors of the House of Orange and Nassau were actually royal blue and orange – not the choice of properly bred Tigers. So what was the origin of the orange and the black?

The accepted historical version is that the two colors began to be used together in the decade after the Civil War. But another answer was recounted to me years ago by that illustrious historian of Princetoniana, Freddy Fox ’39. According to the story that Fox told, when the seal of the new college was to be painted for the first time in 1747, the painter had a problem. New Jersey was not a rich colony. Orange presented no difficulty: Mix some yellow and red. But a deep, rich blue? “Good heavens, we don’t have that. Let’s use black instead.”

And with the selection of orange and black, the rest, as we might say, is history.

Smokey Williams ’42
Hobe Sound, Fla.

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