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The Definitive History of the Colors of Crayola

Part 7 – Crayola Color Wheel

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, Part 6 - Changes in the Roaring 20s

 

The Crayola Color Wheel

 

Crayola made many changes to their different crayon lines in the early 1930s including several design changes to their Gold Medal line. None of these changes affected the core colors or names even though they had gone through several wrapper designs for the crayons as well.  Crayola did their corporate duty during the depression by having farm folks do all of their crayon wrapper labeling for them; a service that helped folks out during a tough time.

 

image021.jpgIn 1930 they also began a concept called the “Crayola Color Wheel” that offered up Crayola colors based on the color wheel concept of distinguishing colors developed by Munsell and then adapted for Crayola’s use.  The No. 16 assortment was offered in two versions.  You could get the regular assortment with Black, Brown, Bt. Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Eng. Vermilion, Gold Ochre, Light Yellow, Lt. Green, Madder Lake, Medium Green, Olive Green, Orange, Prussian Blue, Rose Pink, Violet, White or you could get the color wheel assortment offering BLACK, BLUE, BLUE GREEN, BLUE VIOLET, BROWN, GREEN, NEUTRAL GRAY, ORANGE, RED, RED ORANGE, RED VIOLET, VIOLET, WHITE, YELLOW, YELLOW GREEN, YELLOW ORANGE.  These new colors were offered up in their new wrapper type that appeared in assortments around 1928.

 

Interestingly, Crayola chose not to design another box for the Color Wheel version of the No. 16 and so there was no distinction between the boxes.  Nevertheless, it made a big impact to their color line up.  Suddenly there was a whole new group of colors.  Were these new true colors or had they simply reused another color to create these?  Let’s take a look at what changed:

 

Blues:

 

Blue Swatches 1930

 

Clearly Crayola got to thinking that perhaps their antiquated color choices needed some refreshing beyond just the Munsell colors. 

 

For the Blue family they created two new colors:

 

Blue Green capitalized on the Maximum Blue color.  My swatch turned up a little bit darker here but after a couple of attempts in comparison, these are definitely the same color.

Blue Violet was actually more purple in color than blue but offered up a vibrant option not found in any of the other colors.

 

Greens:

 

Green Swatches 1930

 

Only one color was introduced into the Green family:

 

Yellow Green looked very similar to Light Green but had a slightly darker color to make it unique.

 

Green changed its true color to something much truer to green from what they started with back in 1903.

 

Yellows:

 

Yellow Swatches 1930

 

Only one new color was added to the Yellow family too:

 

Yellow Orange was a new named color but came from Maximum Yellow Red.  I played around with the colors for awhile and the similarities are too close to not have derived from the Munsell color and although they may have tweaked the formula ever so slightly it’s not enough to prompt an entirely new true color.

 

Purples:

 

Purple Swatches 1930.jpg

 

In the Purple family of colors, Crayola introduced Red Violet.

 

Red Violet was definitely a richer blend of purple into the reddish color and bridged that gap between the very reddish colors like Magenta or Maximum Red Purple and the much darker purple colors of Maximum Purple or Purple.

 

Reds:

 

Red Swatches 1930.jpg

 

In the Red family, Red Orange was the newest introduction.  Again, Crayola introduced a very vibrant color that split the red and orange very well and created a color not similar to any other.

 

Others:

 

Other Swatches 1930.jpg

 

In the case of Neutral Gray, they clearly used the Middle Grey color; the two are nearly identical whereas their earlier gray, the Charcoal Gray which was discontinued back in 1910, was much darker.  Perhaps that is why they went with the “Neutral” naming for it.

 

BLUE GREEN was actually the same color as the Munsell Maximum Blue; which is odd that the Munsell color has so much green in it but that seemed to be a common reality among blue colors of the era.

BLUE VIOLET was a brand new color

RED ORANGE was a brand new color

RED VIOLET was a brand new color

YELLOW GREEN was a brand new color

YELLOW ORANGE was a new named color but the same true color as Maximum Yellow Red

NEUTRAL GRAY was the same color as Middle Grey, perhaps an early indicator that Crayola was going to take the Munsell colors into their own color palate soon.  Note how they chose to spell “gray” not “grey”.

 

1930 New Colors.jpg

 

This brought their named color count up from 52 active named colors in use to 59 and their true colors up from 50 to 54.

 

Let’s look at the 1930 color list:

 

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

1930

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

22

61

Green

1903

1930

 

 

 

 

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; same color as Blue Green

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; same color as Yellow Orange

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, same color as Neutral Gray

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

78

40

Blue Green

1930

1926

 

 

Yes

 

 

Blue-Green

Same color as Maximum Blue

79

62

Blue Violet

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Blue-Violet

 

80

52

Neutral Gray

1930

1926

 

 

Yes

 

 

Neutral-Gray

Same color as Middle Grey

81

63

Red Orange

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Red-Orange

 

82

64

Red Violet

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Red-Violet

 

83

65

Yellow Green

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Yellow-Green

 

84

49

Yellow Orange

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Yellow-Orange

Same color as Maximum Yellow Red

 

Next up:  Part 8 - New Assortments Equals New Color Changes