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The Definitive History of the Colors of Crayola

Part 4 – The Gold Medal Changeover

This is a multi-part series of articles written to tell the tale of the history of color names for Crayola. 

You can visit earlier parts here: Part 1 - In the Beginning there was..., Part 2 - The Original Color Line Up, Part 3 - Other Color Names

 

 


The Gold Medal

 

As Crayola evolved and matured, they began to formulate a plan for brand identify and unification.  That core idea sprouted from their prestigious recognition at having won a Gold medal in 1904.  Though their medal wasn’t for their crayon products (it was actually for their An-Du-Septic dustless chalk product), the medals that were awarded during the St. Louis World’s Fair that year were particularly attractive.  They were designed by Adolph A. Weinman (who later designed the Walking Liberty Half Dollar and Mercury Dime), as one of his earliest commissions for a struck medal. The engravings and medals were struck by the U.S. mint in Philadelphia.

1904 Gold Medal (Reverse)

1904 Gold Medal.jpgOne side of the medal depicts two female figures above the date MCMIV (1904). The tall taller figure is Columbia, with her arms spread wide holding the United States flag. The unclothed female at her side represents the Louisiana Purchase Territory.  Emblematic of her reception into the union, the maiden is divesting herself of the cloak of France, the material decorated with bees, the emblem of Napoleon. In the background is the rising sun, marking the dawn of a new era of progress to the nation. Encircling the two figures are the words "Universal Exposition - Saint Louis - United States of America."

 

The other side of the medal shows an architectural tablet inscribed with "Gold Medal" and "Louisiana Purchase Exposition". Below the tablet are two dolphins symbolizing the nations' eastern and western boundaries, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Above the tablet is a large eagle with its wings spread from “ocean to ocean”. The inscription reads "Gold Medal (Silver and Bronze Medals were also given out) Louisiana Purchase Exposition 1904".

 

The medal weights approximately 3.5 ounces and is shaped as a 3-point shield, with 14 stars around the border and a wreath on each point. The wreath in the upper left corner has the letters "US" (representing the United States), the wreath in the upper right corner has the letters "NJ" (representing Napoleon and Jefferson), and the wreath in lower point has a Fleur de Lis., representing the Louisiana Purchase. On each side of the wreaths are 14 stars representing the 14 territories carved out of the Louisiana Purchase.

 

Crayola No 8 (reverse GM) - 8 colors.jpgA lot of companies took advantage of the prestige garnered from such awards and certainly this wasn’t Crayola’s first or only Gold Medal but was the starting point to building an entire line of crayon assortments that featured this symbol as its showcase for quality.  Crayola initially took the Eagle side of the medal to use on their newly created No. 8 assortment (which by-the-way was a copied number approach used by Franklin Mfg. Co for their crayon box from four years earlier) and very shortly thereafter replaced it with the Columbia side; which remained a symbol of their product line for many decades afterward.  This newly created marketing idea and plan also paved the way for a lot of changes to the brand which in turn impacted their full catalog of colors. 

 

The only new box to come out by the end of 1905 was the No. 8.  Interestingly, they adopted the Dark Blue from the E.F. Charlton set and used that for their first assortment.  I wonder how the store felt about having one of their special color names used on a product sold to everyone.  Once again though, their earliest 8 count assortments didn’t truly contain the original 8 colors they purport although in general, Dark Blue is still a blue so they can say that was close enough.

 

 

The introduction of the Gold Medal box didn’t so much change their color catalog but what it did was start changes to their assortment line over the next few years that would vastly simplify their color list. 

 

The Great 1910 Changeover

 

1908 Crayola Special Set Ref (Hand-Work in the Sunday School)There weren’t any changes to the packages or color line up from 1906 to 1910 with one odd exception.   In 1908 Crayola partnered with Littlefield Publishing to produce a special assortment of colors that mapped directly to their biblical maps to be able to color in each accordingly.  These color names were put on existing Rubens Crayola No. 12 boxes with a listing of the colors pasted over the back side of the box.  As these colors weren’t actually labeled on the crayons themselves and only with a mapping of their normal colors to these special biblical colors, they don’t count as real named colors since they weren’t individually named so.

 

By 1910 the trial period for the Gold Medal was over and they began converting some of their assortments to newly designed boxes featuring the gold medal.  The first two to get makeovers were the Rubens Crayola 6 and Rubens Crayola 12.  In doing so, their color line up changed dramatically.  They went from:  Burnt Sienna, Ch. Green Dk., Chr Yellow Med., Madder Lake, PRUSSIAN BLUE, WHITE to No 6 progression.jpgBlack, Blue, BROWN, GREEN, Lt. Yellow, Red.  The Rubens Crayola No 12 went from BLACK, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Chr Green L, Eng. Vermilion, Madder Lake, Med. Green, ORANGE, Prussian Blue, Ult. Blue, VIOLET, Yellow Lt. to Black, Blue, Brown, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Eng. Vermilion, Green, Lt. Green, Orange, Red, Violet, Yellow.  Clearly Crayola was making a shift to the simpler generic color names and away from antiquated or confusing color names using “Chrome” or referencing the source of the color pigment (Madder Lake).

 

image009.jpgThe No. 12 in particular did a lot of changes.  They dropped Chrome Green Light in favor of a new named color with the same true color, Light Green; which came abbreviated Lt. Green.  They dropped Burnt Umber and replaced it with Brown.  Red now replaced Madder Lake.  They replaced Light Yellow with Yellow.  The blues really got swapped around.  They replaced Prussian Blue and Ultramarine Blue with Cobalt Blue and Blue.  Finally, they dropped Medium Green and replaced it with Green.  Like I said, lot’s of changes!

 

Even the prototype No. 8 Gold Medal box made the switch from the Eagle side of the logo to the other “Columbia” side and while doing so, they dropped the Dark Blue from their line, replacing it with Prussian Blue.  Perhaps even odder was that they replaced Yellow with Lt. Yellow; keeping that color alive for a few more years.

 

image011.jpgNothing in the changeover of boxes introduced any new color to their catalog.  What did change was the disappearance of several colors as they simplified their production in terms of both color and containers.  Gone by 1910 were the Crayola No 41, No 45, No 47, No 49, No 51, No 55, No 57.

 

By this time Crayola was still using both of their type 0 wrappers; the original designs they used to wrap and label the crayons.

 

As a result of these disappearances, these colors disappeared from their product line:

Celestial Blue – This one disappeared when all of the assortments (like No. 51) it was in were discontinued.

Charcoal Gray – This one is discontinued but later they adopt another gray to use going forward.

Chrome Green, Dark – The name disappears for good but lives on thanks to Dark Green which resides in the Rubens Crayola No 24 assortment, which they waited many years before converting to a Gold Medal box

Chrome Green, Medium – Again, the name disappears in favor of Medium Green which stays in the line up in the Rubens Crayola No 24.

Chrome Yellow, Light – The name is gone but the color lives on as Light Yellow in the Rubens Crayola No. 500 assortment

Golden OchreWith the No. 51 discontinued, this color only lived on as Gold Ochre as the No. 51 was the only assortment that used this name

Lemon Yellow - With the No. 51 discontinued, this color only lived on as Light Yellow as the No. 51 was the only assortment that used this name

Crayola No 16 (ornate Paris) - 16 colors.jpgPermanent Geranium Lake – Though this one was found in the larger Rubens Crayola assortments (though not the No. 200 or No. 500 which had larger sized crayons) it disappeared in 1910

Raw Sienna disappeared from assortments and bulk but ultimately gets revived again in 1958.

Van Dyke Brown - With the No. 51 discontinued, this color only lived on as Brown as the No. 51 was the only assortment that used this name

Venetian Red, Light  - This one disappeared when all of the assortments (like No. 51) it was in were discontinued.

Venetian Red, Dark - This one disappeared when all of the assortments (like No. 51) it was in were discontinued.

 

However, 1910 also saw the introduction of the No. 16 Gold Medal box for the first time.  This too followed on the heels of Franklin Mfg. Co. who introduced their No. 16 not long before Crayola’s introduction.  Another evolution was happening at the same time.  Original container assortment sizes were evolving.  The usual 9 and 14 color wood canisters were getting too expensive to make and ship; their card paper counterparts were much cheaper and economical and Crayola removed their only one from the line up earlier than many other companies.  The flagship 28 color sliding boxes were also going away, replaced by smaller assortments such as the 16 color tuck box first pioneered by Franklin Crayon Co. (as they’d also done with the original 6 and 8 count tuck boxes in the late 1800s).  Their initial color assortment was Black, Blue, Brown, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Eng. Vermilion, <Gold Ochre>, Green, <Light Green>, Olive Green, Orange, Red, <Rose Pink>, Violet,  <White>, Yellow.  Note that the bracketed colors didn’t have color names on their wrappers.  The colors are well documented though through price lists of the time.  Again, the color choices stem to mostly generic and familiar colors with nothing new presented to their color list.

 

Color List – 1910

 

Named
Color #

True
Color #


Color Name

Year

Named

True Color

Year

End

Date


End Reason

All

UC

All

LC

Mix

UC/LC


Other Name Variations on Wrapper


Notes

1

1

Black

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

2

2

Blue

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

3

3

Brown

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Van Dyke Brown

4

4

Burnt Sienna

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Bt. Sienna

 

5

5

Burnt Umber

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

6

6

Celestial Blue

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Only found in No. 51 box

7

7

Charcoal Gray

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Charc Gray

 

8

8

Chrome Green, Dark

1903

1903

1910

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

Chr. Green DK, Ch. Green Dk.

Same color as Green, Dark; Dark Green

9

9

Chrome Green, Light

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

Chr Green L, CHR. GREEN L, Chr Green Lt.

Same color as Green, Light

10

10

Chrome Green, Medium

1903

1903

1910

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

Chr. Green M

Same color as Green, Medium; Medium Green

11

11

Chrome Yellow, Light

1903

1903

1910

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Light Yellow

12

12

Chrome Yellow, Medium

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Chr Yellow Med.

Same color as Yellow, Medium; Medium Yellow

13

13

Cobalt Blue

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Light Blue

14

14

Copper

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

15

15

Dark Blue

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

No

 

Same color as Prussian Blue, made exclusively for E.C. Charlton Stores

16

8

Dark Green

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Dk. Green

Same color as Green, Dark; Chrome Green, Dark

17

16

English Vermillion

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Eng. Vermillion, Eng. Vermilion

 

18

17

Flesh Tint

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

19

18

Gold

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

20

19

Gold Ochre

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Golden Ochre

21

19

Golden Ochre

1903

1903

1910

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Gold Ochre

22

20

Green

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

23

8

Green, Dark

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Green, Dk.

Same color as Chrome Green, Dark; Dark Green

24

9

Green, Light

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Chrome Green, Light

25

10

Green, Medium

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

 No

Green, Med.,

Same color as Chrome Green, Medium; Medium Green

26

21

Indian Red

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Ind. Red

 

27

11

Lemon Yellow

1903

1903

1910

Used as other name

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Light Yellow.  Only found in No. 51 box

28

14

Light Blue

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Cobalt Blue.   Made exclusively for E.C. Charlton Stores

29

11

Light Yellow

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Yellow Lt.

Same color as Lemon Yellow

30

22

Madder Lake

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

31

23

Magenta

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Permanent Magenta

32

10

Medium Green

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Med. Green

Same color as Green, Medium; Chrome Green, Medium

33

12

Medium Yellow

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Med. Yellow

Same color as Yellow, Medium; Chrome Yellow, Medium

34

24

Olive Green

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

35

25

Orange

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

36

26

Permanent Geranium Lake

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

 

37

23

Permanent Magenta

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Magenta

38

27

Pink

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Rose Pink

49

15

Prussian Blue

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

Prus. Blue

Same color as Dark Blue

40

28

Purple

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Violet

41

29

Raw Sienna

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

 

42

30

Raw Umber

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

43

31

Red

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

44

27

Rose Pink

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Pink

45

32

Silver

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

46

33

Ultramarine Blue

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

ULT. BLUE; Ult. Blue

 

47

3

Van Dyke Brown

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Brown.  Only found in No. 51 box

48

34

Venetian Red

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Ven. Red

 

49

35

Venetian Red, Dark

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

 

50

36

Venetian Red, Light

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

 

51

28

Violet

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Purple

52

37

White

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

53

38

Yellow

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

54

12

Yellow Medium

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Chrome Yellow, Medium; Medium Yellow

55

9

Light Green

1910

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Lt. Green

Same color as Chrome Green, Light

 

And there you have it, as of 1910 they were down from 38 to 32 true colors and used a total of 43 named colors in their assortments (down from 54).

 

Interestingly, their ads were ever inconsistant.  In 1910 they had reduced the color count on their ads from 30 down to 24.  The confusion is that while they did have more than 24 actual colors, the 24 sized assortment was the largest size they offered; down from the 30 color assortment.  So in principle, the ad is accurate because you couldn’t get all their other colors in a single box.

 

1910 Mar Crayola Ad (Teachers Monographs)

 

 

Next up:  Part 5 - Dwindling Down