About this site and your web author
My name is Ed Welter and I am the creator and sole person that maintains this site. I began collecting crayons and crayon boxes as a hobby back in 2001 after having collected breweriana for several decades before that. I stumbled on the hobby by accident after having received an old box of crayons from an auction for something else I had won. I’d just sold off my breweriana collection and had all of these empty shelves that I had made for beer cans. The breweriana collecting had gotten too expensive and my collection too saturated. It was also very competitive; a lot of other collectors had more time, energy and money to devote to their collecting.
Having the old box of Crayola crayons reminded me of coloring when I was a kid and stayed over at my grand-parents house. I began to wonder how many different crayon boxes there were. I also wondered if anyone else collected them. I liked that it was a collectible hobby which relatively few have discovered or considered. That made it much easier to acquire the crayon boxes. Of course, that came with a flip side too; nothing about the history of the crayon had been written and I didn’t know how many companies made crayons or what type of products there were to collect.
I began to research crayons right away put together my own guidebook to keep track of what I had and what I did not. This proved to be problematic because there were just too many unknowns and my compilation changed every month. Instead, I switched to using this website as a means to track them and at the same time it provided a reference source for other collectors.
This site started back in 2003 as the “Virtual Crayon Museum” and morphed into crayoncollecting.com during a site makeover back in 2009. Because I am only one person, rarely does anything ever get completed. There are still pages on this site with the original web design. I changed most of the key pages but there are hundreds if not thousands of pages buried in this site.
The more research I did on crayon products and history the more I began to realize that it was a piece of American history whose story hadn’t been told; at least in a holistic way. I visited the National Archives at the Smithsonian back in 2004 to research the Binney & Smith (now Crayola) collection they had. While the documents were very useful for putting together a timeline of their products, the physical crayon box assets were only a fraction of what I already had. Somewhere along the lines I changed my motivation from that of a mere collector to that of a historian. Not a week goes by that I don’t get one or several inquiries about a box of crayons and folks wanting to know values and ages and context behind the history.
Along the way I met a number of other crayon collectors and together we formed a cyber-club called “Crayon Collecting Club” dedicated to those that love all things crayon. For a national collecting club, our memebership was always small but there was a lot of good collecting discussion back in those days. With technology changes, the group sort of faded away. Then another collector, Jenny, started a Facebook group for crayon collectors called just that: “Crayon Collectors”. This is now where all the crayon collectors are; sharing photos and discussions related to the hobby. It’s a good place to buy/sell beyond the eBay and Etsy options.
Many of the collecting club members collect Crayola exclusively and only focus on the color names that Crayola has used over the years. Their influence got me curious about the history of the colors and in 2011 I compiled a comprehensive 40+ part chronological history of the color names from what they started with in 1903 to what they have current day. The history was complex and confusing and had I not personally owned the majority of the colors and boxes the story might never have been done accurately.
I had been on a crusade for some years to correct so much of the inaccurate crayon information that propogates on the internet. I rewrote the Wikipedia crayon article and co-wrote the Crayola article with another collector. I donated pictures into the Wikipedia public domain of various historic crayon boxes. I wanted to embark on cleaning up the Wikipedia Crayola color list article but the data was such a mess that until I had completed my own history there was no way to redo that one as so much of my work was original research.
After doing the Wikipedia articles, I expanded the history of the crayon with a series that took it from its earliest influences up to the 1920s where I stopped temporarily because copywrite laws made it difficult to find enough research material to be able to properly tell the story further. After that I chronicled a comprehensive list of color names (not just Crayola) known.
In 2014 I retired at the age of 53, sold everything and moved to the South of Spain with my wife to begin a life of global travel and experiences. I sold the Crayola portion of my crayon collection to Crayola. It has now become their corporate archive. Prior to this, they had very few physical products of their history. More importantly, their historian at the time really wanted my data and research information as they lost a lot of their historical source material in floods. I was happy the physical boxes will be used toward retro-inspired products at Crayola in the future. The non-Crayola items got dispersed among many collectors; some friends of mine. After four years in Spain and traveling all over Europe, we moved to Guadalajara, Mexico where we continue our travel and life adventures.
These days I collect digitally. I still save photos of any new crayon container I see or people send to me and I document them here on the website for future collectors. I will continue with projects for this site along with various media and historic endeavors.
Media Links for Ed Welter:
Oregonian Article – In the spring of 2010 the Oregonian newspaper did a full page feature on me and my collection. This is the internet version of that article.
AM Northwest – In fall of 2010 a local feature TV show did a five minute segment of me and my collection. This is the video.
Documentary Film – In the winter of 2010/2011 Patrick Rosenkranz used my collection and thoughts as part of his documentary on Collectors. This is a segment.
– I wrote a two page article on crayon collecting for Collectors News. These are the scans of that article.