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Franklin Manufacturing Company
Rochester, NY
1876-1927

Aliases or Other Company Names

 

Franklin Crayon Company (1906 on)

 

Other Locations

 

Batavia, NY (1876 to 1892)

 

History

 

Benjamin Franklin Callender founded what is probably the United States very first true wax crayon manufacturer.  Starting in 1876, he made and sold industrial crayons up until the mid 1890s when they expanded into wax school and artist crayons.  Callender started out making them from his home at Batavia, NY.  In 1887 he expaned to a small factory but as business grew he eventually had to move to something larger where they had facilities for shipping.  He chose Rochester, NY and built a larger factory there.

 

Their first big product showcase display was at the 1893 Columbian Exposition:

 

“The Franklin Manufacturing Company of Rochester, N.Y., has an exceedingly artistic exhibit in the gallery in the northeast part of the Manufactures Building at the Exposition.  A square, upright revolving case has an attractive assortment of lumber, shipping and checking crayons; also lithographic crayons and coke colors for stencil work.”

                                    - American Stationer, 1893

 

 

 

1893 Franklin Ad w pic (American Stationer Vol 34).jpg

 

While they may well have been the first real crayon company, they probably weren’t the first to make and sell crayons for the school and artists markets.  Eagle Pencil put out a school crayon box back in 1885 and Milton Bradley may have started early too but it is still unclear how the history folded out.  They filed a trademark for their Franklin Rainbow crayons in January of 1895.  This was the same year they started advertising school and artist crayons in attractive boxes.  They weren’t alone in that endeavor though.  By 1895 the Standard Crayon Co. and Milton Bradley were also advertising and selling crayons.

 

1895 Franklin Ad w pic (School Journal Vol 50).jpg      1895 Franklin Rainbow Colors Box (American Stationer Vol 38).jpg     1907 Mar Franklin Golden Gate Ad (School Education).jpg

 

It was also in 1895 the industry had their first trademark infringement scuffle.  The Standard Crayon company introduced a Falcon Rainbow crayon box of colored chalk and the Franklin Mfg. Co. notified them that they held a trademark on the use of  “Rainbow” as it applied to crayons (chalk and colored pencils were also commonly referred to as crayons at this time) and that they would pursue the matter legally.  The Standard Crayon Company agreed to compensate Mr. Callender and discontinue the product.  They did agree to let Standard Crayon sell out the inventory they had already manufactured.

 

In time the Franklin Crayon Company went on to innovate a number of firsts in the crayon industry.  Back in January 1901 they were first to introduce the “No 8” box containing the standard eight colors still known and used today.  By 1907 they innovated the “No 16” box still used as a standard size today.  At the time, boxes of 7, 14 and 28 were much more common.  None of these sizes have survived to the current day.

 

1908 Sep Franklin Rainbow Crayons Ad w Pic (School Arts).jpg

 

By the 1906 they were in a full-fledged exploding market place and found themselves with new competition at every turn.  They changed their name from the Franklin Manufacturing Co. to the Franklin Crayon Co. to help identify their sole focus.

 

By this time Crayola was quickly becoming synonymous with an inexpensive but quality crayon and Franklin found their market shrinking.  But in 1913 they made their last innovative move.  They offered a 175 crayon assortment!  This was six times larger than any other crayon manufacturer had ever offered.  In fact, it wouldn’t be until the 1990s when Crayola offered a 200 crayon assortment that something larger would show up on the market.  They were 80 years ahead of their time.

 

The company continued until 1927 when the competition and the Great Depression sealed their fate and they closed their doors.  Naturally, very few of their boxes have survived over such a long time span and that makes them much rarer than many of their competitor’s boxes who seemed to have sold enough that there are more existing examples out in the collecting community.

 

Known Crayon Boxes

 

Product Name

ID

Box

Colors

Crayons

Box Color

Design

Variation

Years

Rarity

Value

Franklin

FK010

WC

14

14

Blue

Line

White Text, For Primary

1906-1920

9

$60

Franklin Drawing

FK008

LID

15

15

Unknown

Border

Mfg

1893-1905

10

$70

Franklin’s Educational Drawing

FK012

LID

12

12

Black

Border

White label, generic text

1893-1905

9

$30

Franklin’s Original Checking

FK009

LID

1

12

Black,White

Border

Line Border, all text

1910-1918

9

$30

Franklin’s Packet and School

FK005

TFT

5

5

Unknown

Border

Mfg

1893-1898

10

$40

Franklin’s Solid No 210

FK014

VS

6

6

Unknown

2 lines

Generic text

1906

10

$30

Franklin’s Solid Pocket No 220

FK015

HS

12

12

Unknown

1 line

Generic text

1906

10

$40

Golden Gate No 8

FK003

TFT

8

8

Unknown

Sunset

Mfg

1907-1918

9

$100

Golden Gate No 16

FK004

TFT

16

16

Unknown

Sunset

Mfg

1907-1918

10

$100

Radiant No 112

FK001

WC

14

14

Red, white on wood

Arching font

Young Student, white text

1906-1915

8

$100

Radiant No 112

FK007

WC

14

14

Red, white on wood

No arching font

No Young Student

1916-1922

10

$120

Rainbow

FK002

TFT

7

7

Light Brown

Rainbow

Original Rainbow design

1893-1900

9

$75

Rainbow

FK013

TFT

7

7

Light Brown

Rainbow

Lower border

1900-1906

9

$65

Rainbow 7 ½

FK011

TFT

7

7

Light Brown

Rainbow

7 1/2 , line border

1900-1905

8

$50

Rainbow 7 ½

FK006

TFT

7

7

Light Brown

Rainbow

Crayon Co.

1906-1927

10

$60

 

Photos

 

 

Radiant Colors No 112X - 14 colors.jpg

 

Golden Gate Assortment No 16 - 16 colors.jpg

FK001

FK002

FK003

FK004

 

 

Franklin Packet - 5 colors.jpg

 

Rainbow Colors No 72-8 (Crayon Co) - 8 colors.jpg

Radiant No 112 - 14 colors.jpg

FK005

FK006

FK007

FK008

 

 

FK009

 

 

 

FK010

FK011

FK012

FK013

 

 

 

FK014

FK015