I have been spending some time lately going through some old atlases online, and noticed some discrepancies between some images coloration. We have noted on another question that the individual responsible for coloring a work is not necessarily the same professional who originally inked it, and this seems to be another illustration of that problem.
When looking into the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,originally printed on 20 May 1570 (a useful version which even allows zooming and clips can be found at the Library of Congress site), I noticed some discrepancies when researching online to investigate the other issues. I discovered some auxiliary plates (not appearing in the LOC version linked above) also credited to Abraham Ortelius, showing costumes and heraldry from the time.
But two versions I find are quite dissimilar:
The second, from a German Wikipedia entry, seems to show better attention to detail, but shows a completely different set of colors. This image is credited there to Antonie Wierix, though virtually identical to the image published by Ortelius. At LangLangC's prompting to solve this issue, I found an explanation on a page at raremaps.com, stating:
Finely engraved image depicting a group of the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, originally engraved by master engraver Antonie Wierix, for Gerard De Jode in 1593, and later re-issued by Ortelius....This engraving was published from 1593 for the first time in the atlas by Gerard de Jode. The plate was later acquired by Vrients and was then from 1603 onwards included in Ortelius's 'Theatrum' and the 'Parergon'.
Granted, some variation in regional costume is expected, but some of the depicted figures would be wearing what I would call 'robes of office', and these should be 'known'. The heraldry, on the other hand, is quite rigidly defined as to the colors or tinctures used in a coat of arms, and variation is definitely wrong.
I just found an older (1493?), but quite similar image here. A nice online version of these plates can be found on pages 412 and 413 of the Nuremberg Chronicle from the Cambridge Digital Library (and of course the colors there are different as well). This may have been the original reference drawn from by the original engraver Antonie Wierix in 1606, and later published by Ortelius.
My question is, through historical information describing robes or costumes of the depicted individuals, or through the examination of the heraldry displayed, can we determine which image is more correct (if either). Or are these color changes unimportant...
(Note that if this error can actually be somehow attributed to Ortelius, it may provide some insight into this question)