Alternative name: colour swatch set

This Taubmans 'Dulsetta' Semi Flat Enamel paint sample set illustrates the variety of colours available in this paint range. It was manufactured in the late 1940s to early 1950s by Taubmans Pty Ltd. It features fourteen individual sample boards, measuring 23.5 cm x 11.5 x .8 cm, contained within a green wooden box with a hinged lid.

The paint sample colours include a palette of soft pastels, in a range of greens, blues, creams and pinks. They are Apricot, Cream, Hydrangea, Ivory, Chamois, Pale Biscuit, Pale Orchid, Patina Green, Sylvan Green, Distant Blue, Bamboo, Buttertone, Pink, and Mystic Grey. The samples have paint applied to one side only and a metal ring on the top to lift them out of the box with. Inside the lid of the box a sticker lists the details of the paint colours. The paint sample set was distributed from one of Taubmans' six retail branches, which were located in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The samples were used by interior decorators, tradesman and homeowners to aid in the selection of colours applied as decorative and protective finishes to interior surfaces.

Technological innovation within the plastics and paint industries during the mid twentieth century resulted in a transformation of the production and application of domestic paints. Water soluble synthetic alkyd paints, which were available in a range of colours, were a popular alternative to the laborious task of mixing colour pigments into oil paints. By the 1940s pre-mixed paints were commercially available in an array of colours and finishes. Fashion trends of the time dictated the colour range, and popular colours included ivories, off-whites, creams, greys and pastel hues of pink, blues and greens. The post World War II housing boom, combined with an increase in household consumption, created an enormous demand for decorative surface treatments. The pastel hues popular during the early 1950s were eventually replaced with a palette of strong primary colours. By the 1960s interior paint colours were co-ordinated with plastic laminates and linoleum floors to compose a vibrant decorative scheme throughout the home.

Physical Description

Wooden box painted green, with brown writing on top of outside lid: Taubmans Dulsetta Semi-Flat enamel. Box has two green painted metal hooks at front to close it, and two hinges at the back for lid to lift. Inside the lid of the box a sticker lists the details of the paint colours.


This box of paint samples provides an excellent example of the range of paints for the home in the circa 1950-60s period, and the promotional and sales techniques used in home decoration retailing. It is unusual in that rather than being paint samples on paper brochures, the samples are painted on large wooden swatches, which are stored in a wooden box. The style of these samples suggests that it was used as a sales tool by a sales representative rather than taken home by customers, as more ephemeral samples were. Someone has annotated the lid of the box with paint selections and estimations of volume of paint required, which brings its use alive.

The museum holds a large collection of paint sample brochures in the trade literature collection which was donated by Dulux. This includes brands such as Dulux, Berger, Wattyl, Taylors, Balm, Jensen & Nicholson, British Paints and others, as well as about 20 Taubmans brochures. There are no similar sets of paint samples on wooden swatches like this one.

There is no provenance for this box of paint samples as it was bought on e-bay from a dealer in Warburton, Victoria.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Home & Community, Working Life & Trades

  • Acquisition Information


  • Manufacturer

    Taubmans Pty Ltd, Australia, 1947-1954

  • Inscriptions

    Text, lid of box: TAUBMANS/DULSETTA/Semi-Flat/ENAMEL. Text, label inside box lid: "TAUBMANS / SPECIAL PIGMENTED / UNDERCOATING / For DULSETTA Semi-Flat ENAMEL / [line] CORRECT UNDERCOAT for each of the DULSETTA COLORS / [IN THREE COLUMNS - FIRST COLUMN] CREAM UNDERCOAT / BUTTERTONE / APRICOT / CREAM, BAMBOO / CHAMOIS, PINK / PALE ORCHID [SECOND COLUMN] WHITE UNDERCOAT / WHITE / IVORY / PALE BISCUIT / PALE ORCHID [THIRD COLUMN] NEUTRAL UNDERCOAT / PATINA GREEN / SYLVAN GREEN / DISTANT BLUE / MYSTIC GREY / HYDRANGEA / To obtain finest results, in all cases apply Special Pigmented Undercoating straight from the / can. Do not intermix with Dulsetta Semi-Flat enamel. Should thinning be required, add pure / Turps sparingly. / Preparation: The surface to be painted must be perfectly clean and dry. Sandpaper smooth and / dust well. Stir thoroughly by pouring off portion of liquid into another container and stir / remainder until any settlement is thoroughly mixed. Return portion poured off stirring whilst / doing so. 3 COATS ON NEW WORK - First Coat: Apply full coat of Undercoating. (On broad surfaces, / the first coat may need slightly thinning.) Alllow full 24 hours to dry, then sandpaper lightly. / Second Coat: Apply well-brushed out coat of Undercoating straight from the can. Allow full 24 / hours to dry. Sandpaper lightly about 4 hours before applying finishing coat of Dulsetta. / 2 COAT WORK - First Coat: Apply full even coat of Undercoating straight from the can. Allow / full 24 hours to dry then lightly sandpaper about 4 hours before applying finishing coat of Dulsetta. / TAUBMANS LIMITED / SYDNEY MELBOURNE BRISBANE ADELAIDE PERTH / Net Contents" Inscribed in pencil over top of inside lid of box and sticker: "Outside high quality paint Butex - high gloss 25/6 gals better than ?? / Full gloss enamel Dynamel 30/- gal / Flat oil paint Russoline washable 23 / gal / 27 / gal"

  • Model Name or Number

    Dulsetta Semi-Flat Enamel

  • Brand Names

    Taubmans (Paint)

  • Classification

    Trades, Painting & decorating, Paint colour charts

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    252 mm (Width), 222 mm (Depth), 133 mm (Height)

  • References

    [Link 1]

  • Keywords

    Buildings, Colour Schemes, Construction, Housing, Interior Design, Promotions, Retailing, Suburbia, Innovation & Design