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The Definitive History of the Colors of Crayola

Part 6 – Changes in the Roaring 20s

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, Part 4 - The Gold Medal Changeover, Part 5 - Dwindling Down

 

New Wrappers

 

image057.jpgThe last major change before the 1920s was a complete design change for the Gold Medal assortments.  Though the change in look was minor (all they did was eliminate the reference to Paris on the front of the boxes) they also began introducing their new wrapper design (I refer to it as type 2; whereas all subsequent designs were type 0 or 1).  Looking into each of the new boxes, some color changes did occur but the only color removed was Light Yellow and since that color was also in the No. 97 assortment, it wasn’t gone from the color line up.

 

Crayola buys Munsell

 

Nothing really changed in the Crayola line from 1920 to 1922 and so the colors remained the same.  In 1922 they did a major redesign of the Rubens No. 18 and Rubens No. 22 boxes but other than minor upper lower case switches, the colors remained the same.  In 1926 Crayola purchased the rights to Munsell Color Company’s crayon line and developed several new assortments under the Munsell-Crayola and Munsell-Perma brand names.  These assortments came in 7, 12 and 22 colors; all new in the Crayola line up.  They were comprised of 10 maximum and 10 medium color hues (along with Black and White):  MAXIMUM BLACK, MAXIMUM BLUE, MAXIMUM BLUE GREEN, MAXIMUM GREEN, MAXIMUM GREEN YELLOW, MAXIMUM PURPLE, MAXIMUM PURPLE BLUE, MAXIMUM RED, MAXIMUM RED PURPLE, MAXIMUM YELLOW, MAXIMUM YELLOW RED, MIDDLE BLUE, MIDDLE BLUE GREEN, MIDDLE GRAY, MIDDLE GREEN, MIDDLE GREEN YELLOW, MIDDLE PURPLE, MIDDLE PURPLE BLUE, MIDDLE RED, MIDDLE RED PURPLE, MIDDLE YELLOW, MIDDLE YELLOW RED

 

Munsell Crayola No 22M - 22 colors.jpg

 

Of course, when a company inherited and used another company’s colors, there’s a possibility of overlap in true colors even if Crayola just adopted them.  Let’s take a closer look:

 

Yellows:

 

Yellow%20Swatches%201926

 

Four of the Munsell colors were in the Yellow family.  The only real overlap seemed to be with Middle Yellow.  Middle Yellow is fairly close to Chrome Yellow Medium but not that close.  All of the yellows look to be legitimate colors.  It is interesting that Munsell’s Maximum Yellow is much more vibrant than Crayola’s original yellow which has a really dull and pastel like lay down look to it.

 

Of course, by 1926 some of these named colors were already discontinued such as Lemon Yellow, Chrome Yellow Medium and Golden Ochre because they were the same colors as others here in the color palate.

 

Medium Yellow (was Yellow Medium) still gave the darkest, richest yellow for Crayola.

 

Maximum Yellow Red bordered more closely to that of Orange which I have listed in the “Other” section so I’ll compare it there again to see how close those true colors really were.

 

Maximum Green Yellow was an odd color with sprinkled light green and yellow.  It’s not as if the colors blended together well, it’s as if there were flecks of both in the crayon and we’re seeing the two lay over top of each other.  One would expect a better blend of the two colors.

 

Reds:

 

Red%20Swatches%201926

 

Only three of the Munsell colors fell into the Red family.  It’s odd that none of the reds were a really vibrant red color.  Crayola’s original Red was by far the closest with either Madder Lake or English Vermillion coming in second.  All the other reds layed down with a muddled red/brown look and was hard to distinguish the subtle shades between them.

 

Middle Yellow Red clearly doesn’t match anything here as it was closer to Orange than any other Crayola color.

 

Middle Red Purple was very close in color to Indian Red; perhaps just a wee shade darker.

 

Middle Red was very close to Venetian Red Light which was discontinued as a color back in 1910.

 

Greens:

 

Green%20Swatches%201926

 

Only three Munsell colors fell into the Green family too.  Middle Green was very close to Green but it has a bit more green look to it whereas so many of the Crayola greens tended to be on the bluish green end of the green spectrum.

 

Middle Green Yellow was very close to Olive Green but not quite as dark and so it fell into a minor unique color all its own.

 

Maximum Green was another color unique to the family having more green than most other greens already produced.

 

Blues:

 

Blue Swatches 1926

 

A lot of the Munsell colors fell into the Blue family and some crossed between blue and purple.  Munsell brought a number of more aqua or turquoise looking blues to the line up with their Blue Green colors.

 

Middle Blue Green was unique to the color line up and the most greenish of the blue colors.

 

Maximum Blue Green was difficult to distinguish from Middle Blue when you lay down both colors.

 

Maximum Blue was the closest to any of the existing Crayola colors with a similar shade resemblance to the Blue used in 1903 up to current.

 

Both Maximum Blue Purple and Middle Blue Purple span the purple family probably more than the blue family but really both fit in between each with the Middle Blue being the far darker of the two colors.

 

It’s interesting to observe that none of the blue colors up to this point had a strong real blue color to them.  Many of the early blue colors such as Cobalt, Ultramarine and Celestial were really not very vibrant in their pigment lay down at all.  Clearly, Crayola would refine these colors over the years and so we have to keep track pretty closely to compare earlier pigmentations of the same color than that of their current crayons.

 

Purples:

 

Purple%20Swatches%201926

 

Only three of the Munsell colors fell into the Purple family although the two from the Blue family could qualify though as they certainly stood out as far more blue than any in this family.

 

Maximum Purple was unique and brought the richest true purple color to any of their existing colors.  Most of Crayola’s purples carry either a reddish/pinkish tone to them or they muddle in more of a brownish purple.

 

Middle Purple is fairly close to that of Permanent Magenta although Magenta replaced that one since their colors were essentially the same.  However, when looking at these swatches I wouldn’t say that Middle Purple and Magenta were the same color because Middle Purple looks a bit lighter in color.

 

Maximum Red Purple brought a rich vibrancy not seen in the Crayola colors and was unique to the family.

Munsell Colors.jpg

Others:

 

Other Swatches 1926

 

The two other obvious Munsell colors to compare are Maximum Black and Middle Grey.  Crayola already had a rich black color and were known for their black.  In comparison, Munsell’s isn’t quite as vibrant although the differences are minute.

 

Middle Grey brought a light version of gray to the line up when compared to the Charcoal Gray that Crayola had originally but stopped putting in assortments after 1910.  If you wanted a gray crayon from Crayola during this era, you had to get the Munsell assortment.

 

The other two colors worth comparing were the Munsell colors that closely approximated Orange.  Middle Yellow Red was fairly close in color to Crayola’s Orange while Maximum Yellow Red actually did blend in more yellow to create a much lighter unique color to the palate.

 

Another thing to note about the Munsell-Crayola line is that they had their own special wrappers:

 

Munsell Wrapper.jpg

 

 

Let’s look at the list at the end of 1926: 

 

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

1915

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

 

15

15

Dark Blue

1903

1903

1917

Used as other name

Yes

 

No

 

Same color as Prussian Blue

16

8

Dark Green

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

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

1915

Only offered as bulk

 

 

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

1914

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Chrome Green, Dark; Dark Green

24

9

Green, Light

1903

1903

1914

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Chrome Green, Light

25

10

Green, Medium

1903

1903

1914

Used as other name

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

 

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

28

14

Light Blue

1903

1903

1917

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

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

29

11

Light Yellow

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

Yellow Lt.; Lt. Yellow

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

1914

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Magenta

38

27

Pink

1903

1903

1917

Used as other name

 

 

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

1914

Used as other name

 

 

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

1915

Only offered as bulk

 

 

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

1914

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Chrome Yellow, Medium; Medium Yellow

55

9

Light Green

1910

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Lt. Green

Same color as Chrome Green, Light

56

39

Maximum Black

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

57

40

Maximum Blue

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

58

41

Maximum Blue Green

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Maximum Blue-Green

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

59

42

Maximum Green

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

60

43

Maximum Green Yellow

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Maximum Green-Yellow

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

61

44

Maximum Purple

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

62

45

Maximum Purple Blue

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Maximum Purple-Blue

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

63

46

Maximum Red

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

64

47

Maximum Red Purple

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Maxmimum Red-Purple

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

65

48

Maximum Yellow

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

66

49

Maximum Yellow Red

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Middle Yellow-Red

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

67

50

Middle Blue

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

68

51

Middle Blue Green

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Middle Blue-Green

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

69

52

Middle Grey

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

70

53

Middle Green

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

71

54

Middle Green Yellow

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Middle Green-Yellow

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

72

55

Middle Purple

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

73

56

Middle Purple Blue

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Middle Purple-Blue

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

74

57

Middle Red

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

75

58

Middle Red Purple

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Middle Red-Purple

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

76

59

Middle Yellow

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

77

60

Middle Yellow Red

1926

1926

 

 

 

 

Yes

Middle Yellow-Red

Special Munsell Wrappers, not Crayola

 

That brings their existing named count colors available in 1926 from 30 to 52 and their true color count from 28 to 50.  Over their entire history leading up to 1926 they had introduced a total of 60 colors with 77 different names.

 

Next up:  Part 7 - Many Changes Leading into and out of the War