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Nicholson’s Peerless Watercolours – Original Booklet


The original Complete Edition booklet introduced in 1902 under the Trademark included fifteen colors of water color paints.

Original Colour Booklet: The Complete Edition Book includes 15 colour sheets and instructions. Colours are: Brilliant Yellow, Deep Yellow, Orange Yellow, Flesh Tint, Geranium Pink, Japonica Scarlet, Royal Crimson, Mahogany Brown, Sepia Brown, Light Green, Dark Green, Sky Blue, Deep Blue, Wisteria Violet, and Pearl Grey.

Nicholson’s Peerless Transparent Watercolors were developed in 1885 by Charles F Nicholson. After many years of ‘revolutionary’ chemical research, he developed the self-blending line of watercolours in sheet form. His unwavering ideal was to create an original form of presentation of watercolours. After many years of perseverance, he successfully developed Colour Film, or paper leaflet paint as many used to call them. Watercolour had never been offered in dry from. The novelty of the idea seemed to shock the artistic sense of watercolourist of the era. Even after more than 120 years, the self-blending Peerless Transparent Watercolors still surprise and delight the artist. The vintage packaging and presentation of his special colors has not changed in over 100 years. Charles F Nicholson was certainly a genius. The formula he created for his special watercolours in 1885 has never changed. After more than 120 year the same process is used in the creation of the colours today.

One side of each DrySheet swatch contained a concentrated heavy layer of dry watercolor paint that activated when moistened. The concentrated color comes to life when touched with a wet brush.

The opposing side of the DrySheet was painted with a light wash of color that is representative of the paint color shade.

Tips for Using Peerless Paper

  1. Peerless is a full-strength watercolor paint that’s embedded into paper. So to use it, you simply touch a wet brush to the paper, and it releases the paint into the brush.
  2. Cut small squares and dissolve them into a puddle of water. Voila, you have instant liquid watercolours.
  3. Select a minimal palette of colours from your pack. Cut them into small swatches in glue them into your travel journal. Jane Davenport offers an excellent visual.


Select one or all three booklets to try.

40 colours Bonus Pack 2.5" x 6.5" Rectangles: Amber Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Chrome Orange, Chrome Yellow, Daffodil Yellow, Gamboge Yellow, Marigold Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Alizarine Red, Arbutis Pink, Blood Red, Jackqueminot Red, Poinsettia Red, Rose Red, Scarlet Lake, Scarlet Vermillion, Tea Rose Pink, Alice Blue, Butterfly Wing Blue, Cobalt Blue, Forget-Me-Not Blue, Peacock Blue, Robin's Egg Blue, Turquoise Blue, Amethyst, Heliotrope, Mauve, Chrome Green Deep, Grass Green, Hunter's Green, Mountain Green, Myrtle Green, Olive Green, Viridian Green, Neutral Tint, Bismark Brown, Burnt Umber, Ecru, and Warm Sepia.

40 colours Small Bonus Pack: Same colours as above just in a small, trial size  2.5 x 2" Squares. See images below for a side-by-side comparison.

History and Popularity

In the early 1900s, George Eastman of Eastman Kodak Co. out of Rochester, New York, recognized the quality of the Peerless brand of water color paints. Mr. Eastman invited Mr. Nicholson to move his business to Rochester, New York so the two gentlemen could work together by adding color to black & white photography prior to the development of color film. The two businesses complimented each other and continued tinting films, slides & photographs for some time. Kodak and Nicholson’s Peerless Transparent Watercolors worked together for many years. It was during this time that the cover of the Complete Edition booklet was produced in KODAK yellow for recognition as a reputable photographic product.

The Trademark booklets became, and have for decades been, a recognizable feature of Peerless Watercolors all over the world. Over the 115 years existence, famous artists such as Salvador Dali and Ansel Adams have been known to utilize the Peerless brand watercolor paints. Many museums, including the Museum of Natural History has used the Peerless brand paints in their restoration department for restoring old photos. Sales records from the 1920s reflect the sales of the product bearing the Trademark to the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Kent Scientific Museum and many others.

Jerry Garcia of the famous band, The Grateful Dead, was a long time user and fan of the Peerless brand watercolors. He later used his paintings as the template for his artistic line of neckties that are still being sold today, examples of which are shown below.


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