Articles & Features
2002 Review - The year in crayons
What a year! For crayon collectors 2002 was an exciting year. As I look back, I saw two things that really jumped out. One would have to have been Bonnie’s Crayola collecting book "A Century of Crayola Collectibles - A Price Guide" by Bonnie B. Rushlow. For the first time we have a real collectible guidebook in the area of crayons. The pictures are exquisite. Nice job, Bonnie. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, you can go to thecrayolastore.com as well as other sites. My favorite picture in here is the black and white picture of the crayon boxes from the 1904 Crayola booklet (also pictured). There are a couple of these boxes that have yet to surface into the collecting community. Given there is so little pictured documentation of Binney & Smith's early years, this serves as a great pictorial reference if you are after the really vintage Binney & Smith stuff. I call it "the original 13" which may or may not be true.
The second thing that jumped out for the year would be the Binney & Smith collection that surfaced (well, some Rubens boxes were auctioned off way back in 1999 from this collection) and has yielded several “only one known” crayon containers. Perhaps the pinnacle item for the year would be the wooden Crayola No 41 container produced by Binney & Smith sometime around 1903/1904. Not only did this auction generate by far the highest winning bid of the year for Crayola items at over $430 dollars, but also the highest count of any crayon auction with over 500 hits. If you are unfamiliar with this item, it is one of the "13" in the black and white photo from Bonnie's book and had previously never surfaced other than that picture. This particular container was unopened and in exceptional condition for it's age. This particular collection not only yielded many early and previously unseen items, but it was also the condition of the boxes that generated a lot of the attention as virtually every box was in terrific condition - something difficult to find in crayon collecting.
Top 10 Prices in 2002 for a Crayon Box:
1 Crayola No 41 $439.00 (Nov 2002)
2 Superman Crayon-By-Numbers $224.50 (Oct 2002)
3 The Beverly Hillbillies Crayon-By-Numbers $224.50 (Oct 2002)
4 Superman Crayon-By-Numbers $199.99 (Apr 2002)
5 Crayola No 47 $181.01 (Sep 2002)
6 Munsell Crayola No 12M $177.50 (Apr 2002)
7 Mary Poppins Paint and Crayon Set $155.00 (Oct 2002)
8 Prang Educational Watercolor Crayons in wooden Canister $150.00 (Feb 2002)
9 Spectra Pastel No 15 by Binney & Smith $130.99 (Feb 2002)
10 Crayola Color Drawing Set #72 (Mint) $113.62 (Feb 2002)
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Binney & Smith items account for 5 of the top ten with 4 of the others really being cross-over collectors that specialize in a licensed character (such as Superman). Those items always tend to go higher than most crayon items. The Prang Educational Co. canister is particularly interesting because they were only in business between 1882 and 1917 so this puts this particular set of crayons as perhaps one of the earliest known examples of a modern crayon - they even have paper labels around each. Interestingly, not a month after this came up for auction, another Prang Educational Co. box showed up. This too went for just over $100 and nothing from this particular company has surfaced since.
Other interesting boxes surfaced as well. One of my personal favorites was the Little Lulu box from Milton Bradley; very colorful on both the box and the wrappers. It generated a lot of cross-over Little Lulu collectors. The Crayola Studio and School Box was interesting in that is was made expressly for E.P. Charlton stores, which turned into Woolsworth in 1918 (which means these are pre-1918). The American box was perhaps the bargain of the year - a 1912ish box that went for under $10! Both variations of the 7 crayon green boxes (this being the drawing book version) surfaced. This one had a pristine drawing book included but was missing the top flap - a seemingly common problem with these particular boxes.
A lot of unusual companies and products surfaced this year. The New Jersey crayon company eventually got taken over by Binney & Smith, and very little surfaces from this company. A really nice Artiscolor 8-color box showed up though. Blackwell-Wielandt Company usually shows up in the crayon-chalk category, but two different size Blue Jay boxes showed up this year. A very nice brand. Another oddity is Cordell by Cordell Products Inc. No history at all on that one. Craocolor says it is made by Practical Drawing Publishing Co. I suspect it merely a subcontract from another crayon manufacturer but cannot find any proof to back up my belief. The Genco tin is interesting because it is by General Crayon Co. out of Easton, PA. That's the home of Binney & Smith. Could this have been a spinoff of Binney & Smiths? We might never know. Randm is by Roberts & Meck out of Harrisburg, PA - one of only a couple examples from them to date. While this was but a sampling, there were many more interesting companies and products that surfaced. It only makes the collector in me wonder what other brands and boxes they produced besides these.
In the area of licensed characters, a lot of different stuff surfaced this year. Here are some samples: The Steve Scott Crayon and Stencil Set from Transogram was very impressive and in great shape. A lot of interest on that one and it went for well over $50. The Davy Crockett box from United Crayon showed up a couple times during the year but it always a nice one to add - very colorful and reasonably priced for a Western character. One great Donald Duck rocker box showed up from Milton Bradley. This also went for over $60 as it caught the interest of Donald Duck collectors as well. I've never seen another rocker box from Milton Bradley either. Of course, with the success of the first Harry Potter movie in late 2001, it was probably inevitable that a crayon box would come out. While common now, these would make good future investments down the road as they (and almost all licensed product) capture a point in time in pop culture. This particular box is from Elmer Products out of Canada. Howdy Doody was one of the most licensed characters to come out of the 1950s. There are several different crayon boxes and sets utilizing Howdy - all from Milton Bradley who obviously had the exclusive license rights in this category. The particular large sized box set is very rare and subsequently went for close to $100. The next one is a Li'l Abner Crayon Cabin box. I don't know the manufacturer of this one - could be Milton Bradley as well. Never-the-less it was also quite popular and went for over $60. The last speaks to a period of time in Pop culture - namely around 1980-82 when the Pac-Man craze swept through the USA. Produced by Whitman Publishing through their Golden division, they were known for specializing in licensed character crayon boxes.
All in all it was a great year. Let's hope 2003 reviews even better!