This numerical color-standardization system is called the Pantone Color Matching System, introduced in 1963 by the Pantone Company. The company's main product is a series of cardboard strips, printed with closely matched colors and bound as tiny books. These booklets have made color matching a more straightforward task for painters, print companies, and graphic designers.
Not to be confused with the CMYK system, which identifies colors as combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in specific amounts, the Pantone Color Matching System uses number identifiers. Each color has an RBG (red, blue, green) value as well as a LAB value, which denotes the lightness and color-opposition. This system makes it possible to standardize more unusual colors like metallics and fluorescents.
The Pantone Color Matching System has become so widely recognized that it's no surprise the MoMA Design Store is celebrating it in the form of this cute set of espresso cups. Designed by Victoria Whitbread and Jackie Piper Wilkinson in 2008, the cups feature the Pantone colors 179 C, 3272 C, 130 C, and 520 C. The accompanying saucers are a simple solid white.
The cups are available as a set at the MoMA Design Store for $60.00.