Articles & Features
Where are they now?
Like a kid writing a Christmas list to Santa, I find myself often compiling a list of crayon boxes I'd like to see show up. Sure, I'd want them in my collection, but just to know that one still exists somewhere in the world (and if I can get a photo of it for this web site) is enough. As collectors, we only know what we know - which is true for life. But, in the world of collecting, sometimes we know more than what we can produce physically. With anything that no longer exists, there may be a mountain of research material available to identify and understand it even though it may not physically exists - sort of like 6 of the 7 wonders of the world. Things like price lists, catalogs, magazine ads, photographs, books, point-of-purchase materials all serve to identify crayon items that may or may not still exist. Here are some examples:
Charles A. Bowley's crayon
boxes - Charles A. Bowley
made "toy" wax
crayons wrapped in attractive packages for the use of
children from his home
factory near Danvers, MA in the late 1880s. Demand
was so great that
eventually he couldn't meet production and ended up
using American Crayon Co.
to adopt the manufacture - which led to their original
1902 line of wax
a single box has ever
surfaced of Mr. Bowley’s
own production though.
I wonder if they were the same ones from the
1902 American Crayon catalog and what was different?
2. Any of Franklin’s Original Crayons from 1883 on – Going back to at least 1883, Franklin crayons are documented but still a bit of a mystery. First of all, were they making crayons before 1883? Their company goes clear back to 1876 which would make them the earliest referenced crayon company producing wax crayons in the country if they did. Still, we have some examples with pictures, fortunately but we are not sure just how many brands and boxes they produced in these pioneering times.
3. Any of the original crayon boxes in the 1902 American Crayon Co. catalog - It is fortunate that we have pictures of all of these from their price list but I have yet to see all but one of these surface after all these years. As with most of the crayon manufacturers during pre WWI era, crayon box designs were many and changed often. A good timestamp indicator for American Crayon Co. is their "American" trademark. They used this only until 1915 and then switched over to the "Old Faithful" name. But not all of their original line up even used that trademark. Here are some examples from the catalog:
4. Crayola No 8 by Fu Sang Crayola Co Hong Kong - This one is a mystery. Apparently it is in the archives at the historical society in Washington DC as part of a huge donation of Binney & Smith materials. My understanding is that they have some actual boxes in the archives and either this is one of them, or this is merely a document of boxes from some point and then just kept with the rest of the paper documentation. The documentation is purely copies of other competitor's products. Next to the picture, somebody wrote "How'd we get this one?". Indeed, it has a front and back copy of the box. I can find no information on the Fu Sang Crayola Co. Somebody wrote 1956 on the back of the box in the "Name" field. Supposedly they claim to have a trademark for the "57" inside a diamond. One would think that Crayola would have had something to say about the use of "Crayola" by this point - perhaps they had them discontinue this. Perhaps this was made by Binney & Smith as a novelty. Perhaps it was some sort of subsidiary experiment overseas. Perhaps we'll never know, and that makes it an interesting box of crayons!
5. Crayola Flying Star - Here is another copy of a box from the archives in Washington. It would appear that this is an older commemorative box similar to what was done later for their Kansas facility. Other than this copy though, nobody seems to have ever heard of this box or the Flying Star factory. The box can be dated from around 1946-49 based on the Crayola box design.
6. All boxes from the "infamous 13" picture - A lot of speculation has gone into this picture. This was glued on to the inside of Bonnie's 1904 The Art of Crayola booklet. At first, one would speculate that if it was from 1904, then these would have to be the first Crayola boxes, right? But, further analysis lead to the conclusion that this was taken later. Perhaps the most tell-tale evidence of that are the Ruben's boxes. Not only were Rubens introduced much later than 1904 (around 1915-18), but this picture features two different box designs. At some point they changed ol' Ruben to look to the right instead of to the left. This picture features both box designs. Still, let's consider the 13 boxes:
Crayola No 41 - What can you say about this one - only
two known, only canister
Crayola did, Victoria girl on back, 4 cities
early, very rare.
2. Crayola No 46 - Very early box. Green color not used in later boxes. Victorian girl on back, 4 cities listed. 3 or 4 of these exist, only one I know of with the coloring book intact. None I know of with the flap intact.
3. Crayola No 47 - Very early box. It is very large. Only two known. Victorian girl on back, 4 cities listed.
4. Crayola No 49 - Very early box. Only one known (Smithsonian). Victorian girl on back.
5. Crayola No 51 - Very early box. At least 6 of these are known. Victorian girl on back. Lists all crayon colors on box.
6. Crayola No 53 - Very early box. Four cities listed, Victorian girl on back. 4 - 6 known, but only a couple with flap.
7. Crayola No 55 - Very early box. Four cities listed. Green color. Victorian girl on back. Only one known.
8. Crayola No 57 - Very early box. Four cities listed. Victorian girl on back. Only one known.
9. Crayola No 100 - Very early box. Four cities listed. Crayons listed (and tie to No 51). "Use of Crayola" writing on back. Only one known and this one is missing top tuck flap that has the Crayola and number portion.
10. Rubens No 6 - Earlier Rubens box with Ruben looking left. 6 or 7 of these known.
11. Rubens No 12 - Earlier Rubens box with Ruben looking left. Only 3 or 4 of these known.
12. Rubens No 18 - Earlier Rubens box with Ruben looking left. Only 3 or 4 of these known.
13. Rubens No 24 – Earliest of Rubens box with Ruben looking right. Well over a dozen of these are known if not more.
7. Any other unpictured Item - Ok, this pretty much lumps everything else into one bucket. But let me give you some specific boxes to consider:
- Crayola No
500 Snowbound toy set
- Crayola No 501 Little Boy Blue toy set
- Crayola No 504 Elfin toy set
- Crayola Baby Snookums Color Set
- Crayola No 509 Little Women Color & Sewing Box
- Perma No 181 in metal box
- Spectra No 151 in metal box
- Boston No 22 in metal box
- Anything from Eclipse Crayons, Bott's Manufacturing
There are probably hundreds more that I don't even know about as well. Part of the fun is in the discovery and pursuit though!