Articles & Features

Pencil Boxes/Cases Ė The hidden Crayon Collectible

Crayons are where you find them, of course.Sometimes that is a surprise.One of the more surprising places is inside of vintage pencil boxes.These were also called pencil cases, student cases, student kits, school cases and other names.They were basically a small case that buttoned closed and contained either one or more levels of school supplies.Within those school supplies were crayons.

The majority of the vintage cases come from three main companies:Eagle Pencil Co. (later became Berol), American Pencil Co. and Joseph Dixon Crucible Co (later Dixon Ticonderoga).Hassenfeld (Hasbro) and Eberhard Fabor also contributed some but each of the major three made somewhere close to 100 different pencil case design variations.These cases used some of the earliest license products.Joseph Dixon partnered with an early Disney in the late 1930s.Eagle and American used comic book and radio characters as their early inspirations:Popeye, Our Gang, Regílar Fellers, the Lone Ranger and more.

While the majority of these companies focused on pencils for their sales, they did have a crayon branch as well.So it was just natural that they would add crayons to their cases in addition to the pencils and other school items.

While each company had their specific licensed partners, they also each did more generic theme boxes as well.Collecting these pencil cases would make a nice focus collection within the world of crayon collecting as there are over 300 of them and Iím sure more will surface as time goes on.In addition to specific designs on the boxes, a lot of them used multiple colors for each design.Even more confusing is that in Joseph Dixonís case they made their numbering clear on many of the boxes and yet chose to use different numbers for the same design as well as different designs for the same number.This left a myriad of variations to collect.

Joseph Dixon Crucible Co.

Joseph Dixon Crucible did perhaps the largest amount of crayon sales among the major three.They also produced the most varieties of these vintage cases too.They contracted with Disney right as Snow White, Disneyís first full-length animated movie, debuted in 1937.While Disney would go on to license their characters to hundreds of companies including many crayon products, Dixon was one of the first.As such they are desirable because they are early Disney art and of interest to collectors beyond the crayon category.

There are currently 121 known of the Disney Mickey Mouse cases which are broken into various design categories:

Mickey and Minnie: 5 known cases, 2 designs
Mickey Mouse: 81 known cases, 34 designs
Mickey Mouse Dixon Student Companion: 3 known cases, 1 design
Mickey Mouse Dixon Student Set: 24 known cases, 10 designs
Mickey Mouse Parade: 3 known cases, 1 design
Mickey Mouse Plutoís Quintuplets: 3 known cases, 1 design
WWII commemorative cases:2 known cases, 2 designs

In addition, there are several other Disney related cases:

Alice in Wonderland:2 known cases, 1 design
Donald Duck: 1 known case, 1 design
Pinocchio: 1 known case, 1 design
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:7 known cases, 5 designs

And finally there are 2 other known cases for various themes.Currently, we know of 136 cases by this company.It is unclear how many color variations were made for each case design.In one of the designs there are at least 6 different color variations known but that isnít to suggest that all of them had that many.It would seem that many of them just used the more common blue, green and red variations.Time will tell.

Here is a more detailed account:

Mickey and Minnie (1st design).These likely have numbers but I have not identified them by number yet.As you can see, this one is much rarer and only one color (red) is currently known.

Mickey and Minnie (2nd design)

Mickey Mouse No (unknown).This is one of the rarer designs with a goldfish in the drawing.There is only one color variation known to date and I have yet to identify what number this was.

Mickey Mouse No 2523.This design of Mickey and Minnie fishing from a boat also has only one known color variation.However, they used the same design for No 2720 as well.

Mickey Mouse No 2525.This design of Mickey overseeing Donald performing on top of a seal has only one known color variation.It is one of the rarer cases.

Mickey Mouse No 2631.While this design is one of the more commonly used ones on these cases only the red version has been found for this particular case number.†† You can find the design on 2650, 2651 and 2851 also.

Mickey Mouse No 2650.This more common design with Mickey talking to the horse while Minnie waits in the unhorsed cart can be found in the standard colors.The design can be found on 2631, 2651 and 2851 too.

Mickey Mouse No 2651.There are two variations for 2651.One variation is the normal design here and the other has the NRA logo in the upper left.The non-NRA version has three known color variations.

Mickey Mouse No 2651 (NRA).This is the other variation of 2651 with the NRA logo in the upper left.This has only been found in one color.

Mickey Mouse No 2656.This design is another one with Mickey and Minnie in a boat.This one has Minnie looking through a telescope right as a bird flies into his view.This one has four different color variations known.

Mickey Mouse No 2661.Mickey plays the violin while Minnie listens in this design.The design is also used for 2745.There is only one known color for 2661.

Mickey Mouse No 2664.In this design Mickey is riding a wave.This design also has another variation with the NRA logo.

Mickey Mouse No 2664 NRA.At least one color is also available with the NRA logo.This is one of two known designs to use the NRA logo (the other being 2651.

Mickey Mouse No 2705.This design has Mickey gardening with Pluto.There is a wooden fence in the background.It is very likely there was a green variation but it hasnít surfaced to date.

Mickey Mouse No 2708.In this design Mickey is looking at Pluto in his basket.This design too is missing the blue variation so far.It is unclear if any of the other colors were made.

Mickey Mouse No 2709.This design is rarer and only the red variation is currently known.It has Donald Duck trying to enforce quiet while Mickey and friends party.

Mickey Mouse No 2710.This is another really rare design.It has Minnie in a horse cart with Mickey on a horse greeting her while she and both her horses snub his advancement.Only the red variation has surfaced for this design.

Mickey Mouse No 2711.This is one of the most complete designs.There are currently five different color variations known.Mickey is driving some crazy looking vehicle with several others on board.

Mickey Mouse No 2712.This design has Mickey picking up a baby from a basket.

Mickey Mouse No 2714.This design has Mickey and Donald with a piano in it.The blue variation has yet to turn up.

Mickey Mouse No 2715.This design has Mickey with boxing gloves and a kangaroo with them on.The green variation hasnít surfaced yet but one of the orange ones has.

Mickey Mouse No 2716.This design has what looks to be a giant Mickey sitting on the ground with a tiny city behind him and a bunch of tiny cannons in front.The green variation has yet to surface.

Mickey Mouse No 2720.This is another number using the Mickey and Minnie in a boat fishing design.Only the red is known for this number.There are other colors under 2523.

Mickey Mouse No 2744.This design was also used under 2650 and 2651.Under this number, the red has yet to surface.

Mickey Mouse No 2745.This is the same design used for 2661.The blue has yet to surface for this numbered case.

Mickey Mouse No 2799.This is another rare design.I am aware of only one known.This has Mickey and a monkey swinging rope for Minnie.

Mickey Mouse No 2851.This design is the most common.It was also used on a number of other numbered cases:2631, 2650, 2651

Mickey Mouse No 2901.This design has a plaid feel to it with Mickey playing bagpipes and Minnie dancing.No green variation has surfaced to date.

Mickey Mouse No 2902.This design has Mickey and friends holding up a Mickey Mouse banner.Though the green version isnít that rare, I havenít seen another color variation of this.

Mickey Mouse No 2903.This design has Mickey and Goofy on a large rocket.So far no blue variation has surfaced.

Mickey Mouse No 2904.This design is a bit similar 2902 in that it has a white border and a very colorful scene as if more like a label was slapped on the case rather than embossed on it.This scene is different than 2902 though.Here Mickey and friends are around a campfire.Again, I have only seen the green version of these.I wonder if they even made any other color cases for these?

Mickey Mouse No 2905.This is one of two designs done in a portrait view instead of a landscape view.This one has Mickey holding two pencils and using the flap as a door.To date, no green version has surfaced.

Mickey Mouse No 2907.This design has Mickey singing on the dock with Donald in a boat below.The green variation has not surfaced to date.

Mickey Mouse No 2909.This design is the only other one that is oriented in portrait view.The other was 2905.This design has Mickey in a car below while Minnie is on a house terrace above.

Mickey Mouse No 2911.There is only one known of this design.It has Minnie and Mickey under a tree in the moonlight.

Mickey Mouse No 2912.This design is billed as a deluxe set.As far as I know it is the only color variation known.Itís a thicker case with multiple levels.The design is Mickey jumping over Pluto with Minnie sitting on a brick wall watching.

Mickey Mouse No 2917 (Picnic).2917 is perhaps the most common case number only because they used two distinct designs with the same number.This first design is Mickey and Minnie driving by a Picnic Ground sign.This design is known in five different color variations.

Mickey Mouse No 2917 (Sign Painting).In addition to the Picnic Grounds sign design, this is the other design used for 2917.It has Mickey painting his own name on a sign with Donald, Minnie and Pluto watching.There is a rare yellow color variation for this one.

Mickey Mouse No 2918.This design is a bit similar to 2711 in that Mickey and friends are in a crazy vehicle but it is a different looking vehicle.

Mickey Mouse No 3131.This is another only-one-known design.This one has a moose in it.

Mickey Mouse No 3208-A.This is the only numbered case with an A added to the number.Iím not sure what that stands for.Currently there is no red variation to have surfaced.This design has diamond columns on the right and left with Mickey and Minnie holding hands and Donald and another watching.

Mickey Mouse No 3209.This is yet another only-one-known design.This has a line of stars at the bottom with Mickey and Minnie in the center and Pluto and Donald on the ends.

Mickey Mouse No 4209.This design has a unique color variation. They did one in a mock wood grain version.This has Mickey shooting an arrow with Donald.There are a set of three arrows both right and left of them.

Mickey Mouse Plutoís Quintupletís.These may have a specific number but I donít know it.It wasnít right on the main cover if so.These arenít too rare and each of the main colors are known.

The non-Mickey cases:

Alice in Wonderland.This case has a yellow circle with Alice in it.The cases are very plain except the name banner.There is no indication of a Dixon numbering for these.Currently there has been no green variation to surface.

Snow White No (Unknown).Given that other designs for the Snow White cases have both numbers and color variations, it is likely that the others may have too but havenít surfaced yet.This one has Snow White and the seven dwarfs looking out from the top of a fence.So far, only the green is known.

Snow White No (unknown).This unknown numbered design has two known color variations.It is an unusual design of Snow White and the Prince in a swan sail boat with clouds and stars around.

Snow White No (unknown).This design has Snow white with a deer and a squirrel.Currently only the green color variation is known.

Snow White No 3904.This is the only design in portrait view for the Snow White cases.Currently only a green one is known.

Snow White No 3942.This design has Snow White on a ship tossing something off.At least one of these has a handle although they may all have handles.Currently no green or red variation has surfaced.

Military Commemorative Cases.Dixon did a few WWII support cases during the war.To my knowledge, these didnít have color variations.Two of them had viewable numbers on the cover.The red/white case with Mickey and Donald supporting the U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron 43 was No 4603.Another case supporting U.S. Navy Utility Squadron VJ-3 was No 4809.The other two didnít have numbers on the cover.

The other cases.Dixon did two other cases.They did ďThe Country FairĒ and a Pinocchio case.It is possible that there are other color variations for Pinocchio and perhaps even other designs but none have surfaced so far.

Eagle Pencil Co.

The Eagle Pencil Co. started the pencil cases in the 1920s, long before Joseph Dixon started putting out all of their own.They leaned on characters from the comics and radio shows (later TV shows).The main sources for cases were Popeye, Our Gang, Regílar Fellers and Willie Whopper but they did some others as well.Their cases didnít have the number clearly on the cover either.

Our Gang (baseball team design).This is perhaps the most common design from the Our Gang set of cases.The orange variation is the rarest.

Our Gang (named characters).The gray variation is the tougher of these although they all turn up from time to time.

Our Gang (other baseball team design).This is a different baseball team design and it has an endorsement for Haydens.I have only seen this in a green variation.

Popeye (Big Arms).This design is the most complete for color variations.Popeye has his arms spread out with all the other characters in his arms.Still, this is missing the blue variation.

Popeye (2 panel).There is only one known variation of this design.It has Popeye in the center with two cartoon panels; one on each side.

Popeye (Anchor 2 panel).This Popeye design has two anchors on the flap with Popeye in the center and two panels; one on each side.

Popeye (No anchor 2 panel).This is very similar to the design above except that there are no anchors on the flap.

Popeye (4 characters).There are two similar designs.This one has four characters but no circle around Popeye.

Popeye (Anchor Portrait View).This is the only Popeye case oriented vertically.It has Popeye with an anchor.There are multiple gray boxes with different colored pants as well as variations with different color boxes.

Popeye (Circular 4 characters).This is similar to the one before except they added a circular line between the characters and one around Popeye.

Popeye (Dumbbell). There is currently only one known of this design verison.It shows Popeye with two dumbbells and Sweetpea with some too.

Popeye (Holding Hands).This design has Popeye holding hands in a line with Olive Oil and Whimpy.Currently there is no green variation known but there is a rarer wood grain variation.

Popeye (Holding Sweet Pea).This design has Popeye holding Sweet Pea with Olive Oil and Whimpy looking on.They are in front of a house.There are a lot of color variations for this one but still no green has surfaced.

Popeye (Path).This is one of the more common Popeye designs found out there.They also did a sort of Gold color variation as well.I havenít seen that color on any other design.

Popeye (Sitting).This design is also in front of the house from the other Popeye design except this time Popeye is sitting down.A green variation has yet to surface for this one.

Popeye (3 Windows).There is only one variation of this design.It has Popeye, Olive Oil and Whimpy each looking out a window.

Popeye (Shark).This design is actually fairly common however I havenít ever seen a red variation show up.This one has Olive Oil stuck part way in a shark while swimming and Popeye grabbing the shark to get her out.

Regílar Fellers (Cartoon Bubbles).Regílar Fellers didnít have nearly as many designs as Popeye but they had a few.This one has a reference to a Tiger.

Regílar Fellers (Cart).This design is similar to the first one in that it has a lot of cartoon dialog but features a cart.

Regílar Fellers (Circles).This design has two circles with dialog.A red variation has yet to surface.

Regílar Fellers (Named Characters).This design has six characters with their names.No green variation has surfaced to date.

Skippy (Chase).Skippy was another series that Eagle Pencil did a few cases for.They only did a couple of designs though.This one is of a case and the blue variation hasnít surfaced yet.

Regílar Fellers (Exercising).This design only has the green variation of the regular three colors but an orange one has surfaced.Skippy cases are much harder to come by.Hopefully in the future more will be found.

Regílar Fellers (Police).This design has a policeman chasing the gang.Only the blue variation has surfaced.

Regílar Fellers (Sledding).This design has one of them sledding.The blue variation hasnít surfaced to date.

Willie Whopper (Film).Willie Whopper was another cartoon character they did a number of designs for.This design has pictures on both sides of Willie who is playing a guitar.The pictures look like film strips for photo negatives for the borders.The red variation hasnít surfaced to date.

Willie Whopper (Pirate).This design is a pirate scene.The green hasnít surfaced yet.

Willie Whopper (Misc).The rest of these are one-offs.I just put them in a composite picture unless I find another color variation.There are some similarities in the designs in that there are single and double panels but each of them is slightly different.

Roy Rogers.I also didnít try to do color variants for the Roy Rogers cases even though there are many designs.I have found only one with two color variations though so until there are more to feature, Iíll just leave them documented as a grouping.

Other Case Designs.Eagle Pencil did a number of one-off designs.They had everything from Rocket Patrol to Dolls of Many Lands.They even did a special case for the New York Worldís Fair in 1939.One of their School Days boxes used windows.With the exception of School Days, it seems that all of these were one off designs.I have yet to see any of them in a second color design.

American Pencil Co. (also known as American Lead Pencil Co.)

The American Pencil Co. is the third large producer of these cases.Their three main licensed character cases were Buck Rogers, Felix the Cat and The Lone Ranger.They produced the most one-off designs of the three major companies as well.

Buck Rogers (Battle).The Buck Rogers of the 25th Century line of cases were by far the most popular for American Pencil.They did the most designs for this and more of these have survived than the others.This design is of a battle and has also been found in orange as well as the normal colors.It is interesting that all three companies went with similar color variations

Buck Rogers (Floating).This design has Buck and a girl as if they were floating or flying in space.The Buck Rogers series has color variations where the background color is the same but the character colors are different.In this case we have two green cases but one has yellow and one has red.It doesnít really fit my chart so I just put the other color variation under the ďotherĒ space.While this design can be found fairly easy, there hasnít been a red to surface yet.

Buck Rogers (Giant).This design is a little less common.A green color variation has yet to surface for it; only the blue and red are known.This has Buck with a giant.

Buck Rogers (Helmet Creature).This design has a space creature with a large helmet on.It is fairly easy to find one of these but they always seem to be the blue or red variations.So far, no green variation has surfaced.

Buck Rogers (Large Head).This design has Buck in the foreground with his helmet on.We have all the standard color variations known for this one and even a cream variation too.

Buck Rogers (Scale People).This design has two scale like creatures surrounding the female character.I never really saw the serial so I donít know her name.The blue color variation hasnít surfaced as yet.

Buck Rogers (Space City).This design is rarer.Only a red one is known.The design has Buck firing his weapon with a space city in the background.

Buck Rogers (Space cycles).This design has Buck and another riding space cycles.While the standard green variation hasnít surfaced yet, there is a gray variation known.

Buck Rogers (Spaceship Pair).There are several designs that are very similar.They have somebody firing on a spaceship.In this design there are actually two and one is firing.The spaceship is tilted downward.Only the green variation is known at this time.

Buck Rogers (Spaceship Single). This is a similar design to the earlier one except that only Buck is present and firing and the spaceship is tilted upwards.Only the red color variation is currently known.

Buck Rogers (Spaceship).Here is a third similar design.This time there are three of them but only Buck is firing.The spaceship is tilted way down.There are more color variations for this one but still no red to date.

Buck Rogers (Space Tank).Several of the Buck Rogers Pencil Box designs are fairly common but others are rare.This one has only the red variation known.It is much rarer.The design has Buck fighting against some creature with a space tank like weapon.

Buck Rogers (Surrounded).This design has Buck and the female character surrounded by weapons or spaceships.The red version hasnít surfaced yet.

Buck Rogers (Sword Fighting).This is the last of the known Buck Rogers designs.This one has him sword fighting.Only the red color variation is known at this time.

Felix the Cat (3 Faces). Felix the Cat was another series of cases that American Pencil did.This design has three different faces of Felix.The blue hasnít surfaced yet but there is a rare gold variation.Gold wasnít used as a color very often.

Felix the Cat (Blocks).This design has a repetitive montage of Felix and some childrenís blocks.I donít know if they did this in multiple color variations or not but only a red one is known to date.

Felix the Cat (Boat same color).There are two versions of the same design.One set has the Felix name using the same color as the case.The other does not.A blue variation isnít known as yet for the design with the same color.Each of these designs has Felix catching a fish from a boat.

Felix the Cat (Boat Different Color).This version has a different color background to the Felix name banner.Itís the same scene as the previous one though.In this design no green variation has been found yet.

Felix the Cat (Bottle).This is one of many montage designs.Iím assuming there are other color variations and that each one has them but I am not entirely sure.This design has one part where Felix is holding a baby bottle.It has also only surfaced as a much rarer yellow color case.

Felix the Cat (Broadcasting).This design has Felix playing a variety of instruments for a radio broadcasting event.There is currently no red variation but there is a rare brown one.

Felix the Cat (Coffee Cup).This design montage has Felix holding a coffee cup on the far right side.It has only been found in an orange color so far.

Felix the Cat (Drums).Hereís another one-only montage design.This time Felix has a drum.Only the yellow variation is known.

Felix the Cat (Golf Club).This montage design has Felix with a golf club.It seems they used orange and yellow more for Felix cases than any other design.Only the orange is known for this one.

Felix the Cat (Map).This design marks a departure from the more traditional designs of their cases.Dixon did a similar thing with a couple of the Mickey Mouse cases too.This one has Felix pointing to a map with a pencil.Only a red and yellow version is known.

Felix the Cat (Marching, no color).This design has Felix and two others marching.There are two different designs of this.In this one they have no color in their faces, it just blends with the color of the case.All three of the standard colors are known for this one.

Felix the Cat (Marching, white color).This is the same design as the first one but in this there is white used for their faces and the pathway.All three standard color variations are known for this design too.

Felix the Cat (Music).This is a one-off design of Felix and others playing musical instruments.There is a similar design that has the Felix name on the front.This one have it on the front spine.Only the blue is known for this variation.

Felix the Cat (Music Felix name).This is the same design as the one above except with the Felix name on the front. So far a blue variation hasnít surfaced.

Felix the Cat (Scarecrow).This design has Felix and many others working on a scarecrow.The blue has yet to surface.

Felix the Cat (School Supplies).This is a rarer design with only the red color variation known so far.It has various Felix cats holding up different school supply items.

Felix the Cat (Skating).This design has Felix on roller skates being pulled by a dog with a bone.All three standard color variations are known.

Felix the Cat (Swing Time).This design has Felix dancing with a female cat and others playing music.All three color variations are known.

Felix the Cat (Violin).This design has Felix playing violin to a small cat.Only the green has surfaced of the standard three colors.There is a rare black version.Very few cases are black.

Felix the Cat (Weiner Dog).This is another rare design in which only a red one is known.It has Felix and other cats riding on a weiner dog like a surfboard.

Lone Ranger.The Lone Ranger cases are like the Roy Rogers cases by Eagle Pencil.While they produced many designs, I could find only one that had another color variation.I donít know if they actually did other color variations for all of them.Time will tell.

Superman.Some of the more desirable pencil boxes are the Superman ones.There were two basic designs.One of him flying and one of him flying with a city behind him.

Other Designs by American Pencil.American Pencil has done many different designs for their pencil cases.Most of them are one-offs but a couple have either multiple designs or color variations but not enough to warrant separate tracking grids by color.

Natural History


Eberhard Faber.

The Eberhard Faber Company also contributed to pencil boxes but only in a minor capacity. ††Currently there are only a few designs known.

Hassenfeld Brothers.

The Hassenfeld Brothers also contributed to pencil boxes but only in a minor capacity. ††Currently there are only a few designs known.They did continue the pencil boxes but switched over to cheaper boxes or flimsier vinyl designs later one.Iíve only included the classic case here.

Hopefully Iíll be able to add more to this compilation as time goes onÖ