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The Definitive History of the Colors of Crayola

Part 12 – The 50s

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, Part 7 - Crayola Color Wheel, Part 8 - New Assortments Equals New Color Changes, Part 9 - Crayola's Biggest Assortment Secret, Part 10 - War Time Changes, Part 11 - Enter the No. 48

 

The Booming 50s

 

Crayola No 48 (oval arched) - 48 colorsEver wonder why nobody has put together a complete story and history of Crayola colors before?  It’s because not only is it hard to do just from the sheer amount of detail but also because of the convoluted swapping and renaming of colors.  And to add insult to injury, Crayola themselves unknowingly made it even more difficult by providing lots of incorrect information.  For example, their 1953 catalog specifically says that Olive Green and Indian Red are only available from bulk and not available in any assortment.  This was the first catalog produced by Crayola that featured a sourcing section where they listed each color and told what assortment boxes it could be found in.  That’s a very handy feature to have but unfortunately they didn’t do a very good job creating it.  For one thing, it only contained a list of 27 colors when they had 48 colors in total.  For another thing, Olive Green and Indian Red were in the No. 48 at the time and had always been there.  The only time these colors were ever gone prior to 1953 is when they couldn’t make them due to shortages during WWII.  Another case in point; Crayola regularly lists out the colors in each assortment but for some reason they chose to list the No. 48 as containing the same colors in the No. 24 plus twenty-four “other” colors and then never list what those colors are.  Way to make it difficult, Crayola!

 

But as we roll into the 1950s, by 1953 Crayola added back Gold to their bulk order list but not to any assortment.  1953 marked their 50th anniversary of the Crayola crayon.  In retrospect, their lack of seizing on that opportunity with regard to their colors or packaging seems odd given more current efforts toward heritage oriented marketing but that was a different era and had a different philosophy.

 

In 1955 Binney & Smith incorporated.  This changed all of their assortment packages and their wrappers from “Co.” to “Inc.”; an excellent way to check on the age of products.  Of course, in the case of the crayon wrappers, it took a little longer to deplete the existing stock; one of the common challenges when dating their product.  In doing so, they revised their assortment designs and adopted a new logo.  In addition, they devised their new wrapper with the name of the color back above the logo.  We’d seen that format before with their type 4a wrapper back in the mid 1930s to mid 1940s but those wrappers used upper/lower case while these new type 6 wrappers used only upper case and had the “Inc” inside the logo.

 

image064

 

By 1956 Crayola was advertising that their flagship No. 48 box contained both Gold and Silver.  Indeed, they did insert Gold into their No. 48 assortment.  They replaced Brilliant Rose to put it into the assortment.  This left Brilliant Rose not available for two years because that was the only assortment it was in and they weren’t advertising it as a color for bulk sales either.  It would reappear later in the original No. 64 box.

 

2010-10-15 001

 

While the Gold color was actually documented and marketed, Crayola did another unusual change that wasn’t.  In their 1956/57 No. 48 assortment, they also renamed Flesh to Pink Beige.  This change was one of two renaming changes in the box.  The other was changing Neutral Gray to Gray.  That change made sense because the catalogs and advertising had been referring to the color as Gray for many years anyway.  The Pink Beige change was another matter.  By 1958 the color was gone and they were back to using Flesh again.  The fact that this changed color was only available in their No. 48 assortment from 1956/57 makes it one of the more desirable colors for collectors to obtain for two reasons:  1. it is a hard color to find because it wasn’t available for very long and 2. It doesn’t fit Crayola’s story about how Flesh was changed in 1962 over pressure from the Civil Rights movement.  What you really have is Flesh Tint starting in 1903 and changing to Flesh in 1949 then to Pink Beige in 1956/57 then back to Flesh in 1958 and finally to Peach in 1962 (which was BEFORE the Civil Rights movement ever even made it to Washington DC and would begin to influence the country).  That covers the naming changes but what of the true colors?  Were they truly the same?

 

1956 Color Comparisons

 

As we can clearly see, there are some differences.  The new Gold is different than the original and given that there was such a long stretch to find another color source after WWII I’d say they used a different source that created a different color.  As to the renaming of Neutral Gray to Gray, the colors are the same; I just got a poor swatch from my last sampling.

 

So, leading up to 1958, we had the following color line changes:

 

Brilliant Rose was unavailable from 1956-1957.

Flesh was discontinued from 1956-1957 due to a renaming.

Gold was a new true color now available again staring in 1953 and then in an assortment and not just from bulk starting in 1956.

Gray was a new color name with the same Neutral Gray true color.

Neutral Gray was discontinued due to a renaming.

Pink Beige was a new color name with the same Flesh true color.

 

That leaves us up from 48 to 49 active named and true colors from 1953 to 1955 and then back to 48 from 1956-1957 (Gold was added and then Brilliant Rose dropped out)

 

Let’s take a look at the color list at the end of 1957:

 

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

1935

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

True color renamed to Celestial Blue

2

66

Blue

1903

1935

1949

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

2

70

Blue

1903

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

3

3

Brown

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Van Dyke Brown

4

4

Burnt Sienna

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

Bt. Sienna, Burnt-Sienna

 

5

5

Burnt Umber

1903

1903

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

6

6

Celestial Blue

1903

1903

1910

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Only found in No. 51 box

6

2

Celestial Blue

1903

1903

1944

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Reused color name for orig. 1903 Blue color; only found in No. 52 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

9

9

Chrome Green, Light

1903

1903

1935

Discontinued

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

1935

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

Chr Yellow Med.

Same color as Yellow, Medium; Medium Yellow

13

13

Cobalt Blue

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Light Blue; only available in bulk as a named wrapper crayon 1935-1943; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

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

1949

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Green Dark; Chrome Green, Dark

16

71

Dark Green

1903

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

17

16

English Vermillion

1903

1903

1935

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Eng. Vermillion, Eng. Vermilion

 

18

17

Flesh Tint

1903

1903

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Only available in bulk as a named wrapper crayon starting 1935; Same color as Flesh, Pink Beige; Not available 1944 due to WWII

19

18

Gold

1903

1903

1953

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

1915-1943 only offered in Bulk; Not available 1944-1952 due to WWII

19

84

Gold

1903

1953

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

1949

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

Yellow Lt.; Lt. Yellow

Same color as Lemon Yellow; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

29

38

Light Yellow

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Yellow (true color 38) that it inherited in 1949

30

22

Madder Lake

1903

1903

1935

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

 

31

23

Magenta

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Permanent Magenta; Not available 1944 due to WWII

32

10

Medium Green

1903

1903

1939

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Med. Green

Same color as Green, Medium; Chrome Green, Medium; 1935-1939 only avail in long crayon size in No. 99

33

12

Medium Yellow

1903

1903

 

 

 

 

Yes

Med. Yellow

Same color as Yellow, Medium; Chrome Yellow, Medium; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII;

34

24

Olive Green

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

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

 

Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

43

31

Red

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

44

27

Rose Pink

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Pink

45

32

Silver

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

1915-1943 offered only as bulk; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

46

33

Ultramarine Blue

1903

1903

1944

Temporary Shortage

Yes

 

Yes

ULT. BLUE; Ult. Blue

WWII forced shortage starting in 1944

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

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Ven. Red

Only available in bulk as a named wrapper crayon from 1935-1937 Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

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

1949

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Purple

51

72

Violet

1903

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

52

37

White

1903

1903

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

53

38

Yellow

1903

1903

1949

Switched true colors

Yes

 

Yes

 

Same color as Light Yellow (second one)

53

48

Yellow

1903

1926

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Maximum Yellow

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

1910

1949

Switched true colors

 

 

Yes

Lt. Green

Same color as Chrome Green, Light; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

55

73

Light Green

1910

1949

1949

 

 

 

 

 

 

56

39

Maximum Black

1926

1926

1935

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935

57

40

Maximum Blue

1926

1926

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII; same color as original Blue Green

58

41

Maximum Blue Green

1926

1926

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

Maximum Blue-Green

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

59

42

Maximum Green

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

60

43

Maximum Green Yellow

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Maximum Green-Yellow

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

61

44

Maximum Purple

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

62

45

Maximum Purple Blue

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Maximum Purple-Blue

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

63

46

Maximum Red

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

64

47

Maximum Red Purple

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Maxmimum Red-Purple

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

65

48

Maximum Yellow

1926

1926

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Same color as Gamboge Yellow, Yellow (second one); Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

66

49

Maximum Yellow Red

1926

1926

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

Middle Yellow-Red

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Same color as Yellow Orange; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

67

50

Middle Blue

1926

1926

1949

Used as other Name

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII; Same color as Light Turquoise Blue

68

51

Middle Blue Green

1926

1926

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

Middle Blue-Green

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

69

52

Middle Grey

1926

1926

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Same color as Neutral Gray, Gray; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

70

53

Middle Green

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

71

54

Middle Green Yellow

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Middle Green-Yellow

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

72

55

Middle Purple

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

73

56

Middle Purple Blue

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Middle Purple-Blue

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

74

57

Middle Red

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

75

58

Middle Red Purple

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

Middle Red-Purple

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

76

59

Middle Yellow

1926

1926

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

77

60

Middle Yellow Red

1926

1926

1949

Used as other name

 

 

Yes

Middle Yellow-Red

Munsell wrappers used prior to 1935; Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII; Same color as Medium Orange

78

40

Blue Green

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Blue-Green

Same color as Maximum Blue

79

62

Blue Violet

1930

1930

 

 

Yes

 

 

Blue-Violet

 

80

52

Neutral Gray

1930

1926

1956

Used as other Name

Yes

 

 

Neutral-Gray

Same color as Middle Grey, Gray

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

85

67

Carmine

1935

1935

1949

Used as other Name

 

 

Yes

 

Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII; Same color as Carmine Red

86

68

Sepia

1935

1935

1949

Discontinued

 

 

Yes

 

Not available 1944-1948 due to WWII

87

69

Turquoise Blue

1935

1935

 

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

88

48

Gamboge Yellow

1941

1903

1944

Used as Other Name

 

 

Yes

 

Same color as Maximum Yellow; used only on hex; color name dropped during WWII shortage even though yellow was still available

89

2

Azure Blue

1949

1903

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Color inherited from second Celestial Blue

90

74

Brilliant Rose

1949

1949

1956

Discontinued

Yes

 

 

 

 

91

66

Carmine Red

1949

1935

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Carmine

92

75

Cerulean Blue

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

93

76

Dark Red

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

94

17

Flesh

1949

1903

1956

Used as other Name

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Flesh Tint, Pink Beige

95

77

Lavender

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

96

78

Light Magenta

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

97

50

Light Turquoise Blue

1949

1926

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Middle Blue

98

79

Mahogany

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

99

66

Medium Blue

1949

1935

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Blue (second one)

100

60

Medium Orange

1949

1926

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Middle Yellow Red

101

80

Medium Red Violet

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

102

81

Medium Rose

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

103

82

Medium Violet

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

104

83

Salmon

1949

1949

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

105

52

Gray

1956

1926

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Neutral Gray

106

17

Pink Beige

1956

1903

 

 

Yes

 

 

 

Same color as Flesh, Flesh Tint

 

Our overall count  really jumped; up from 104 to 106 named crayons while true colors went from 83 to 84 ever used up to this point in time.

 

Next up:  Part 13 - The Revolutionary No. 64