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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Crayola Crayons
by Edward Binney and Harold Smith in 1903.
CRAYONS

Since its inception in 1903, the Crayola brand has grown into one of the most respected and recognizable brands in the consumer marketplace. Today consumers equate the brand with color, fun, quality and development—all the characteristics that are reinforced in our growing product line which includes crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, modeling compounds and craft and activity products for use in schools and homes. The brand has come a long way since the first box of 8 Crayola crayons made its debut in 1903.
Currently the company makes more than 120 different crayon colors as well as an array of materials to stimulate children’s creative development. And thanks to innovative technology, we offer Crayola products that sparkle with glitter, glow in the dark, smell like flowers, change colors and even wash off walls and other surfaces and materials.
Today, the world is a very colorful place. But it wasn’t always that way. Binney & Smith, the company that makes Crayola® products, played a big role in coloring our world. In the late 1800s, it was Binney & Smith’s red oxide pigments that were used to make paint for what has become a timeless symbol of America — the classic red barn!

And it was Binney & Smith’s carbon pigments that the Goodrich company added to their traditional line of white auto tires to make them black. To their surprise, the pigment not only changed the color of the tires, it also made them five times more durable. Not long after, white tires vanished from American highways.

Binney & Smith establishes its business office in New York City. Then they buy a water-powered stone mill along the Bushkill Creek in Easton, Pennsylvania, to take advantage of the region’s large slate supply. The slate is used to make a new company product slate school pencils!

Shortly after of its successful launch of slate pencils, the company develops another school product: chalk. This is no ordinary chalk, though; it’s dustless chalk! Teachers across the nation love it! In fact, dustless chalk is so popular, it wins a gold medal at the St. Louis World Exposition.

While Binney & Smith representatives show their new pencils and dustless chalk in local schools, they notice a need for better-quality, affordable wax crayons. The company quickly changes its industrial marking crayons to be used in schools. They make the crayons smaller and add colored pigments to the paraffin wax. The crayons are an overnight success with children and teachers!

As Binney & Smith prepares to meet the challenges of the future, one of their greatest strengths comes from our colorful past. The Crayola brand is steeped in a heritage rich in education and creativity. Literally generations of children have grown up using Crayola products, so it’s no surprise that according to research, the name "Crayola" is recognized by 98 out of every 100 American consumers.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Toys  from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

My Crayons Talk
by Patricia Hubbard, G. Brian Karas  / School & Library Binding - 32 pages / Bill Martin Books - 1996
A dozen crayons, each being true to their respective colors, talk to a little girl as she draws pictures

Crayons and Computers: Computer Art Activities for Kids Ages 4 to 8
by Carol Sabbeth / Paperback - 160 pages / Chicago Review Pr - 1998
Children use a computer to draw an outline or picture, print it, and then add color or decoration with crayons, paints, or markers. The activities are interesting and challenging and creativity is encouraged.
My First Book of How Things Are Made: Crayons, Jeans, Guitars, Peanut Butter, and More
by George Jones / Hardcover / Cartwheel Books - 1995
Basic, step-by-step information on eight subjects of interest to children: crayons, peanut butter, grape jelly, footballs, orange juice, blue jeans, guitars, and books. Each six- to eight-page chapter clearly enumerates the manufacturing process, from the raw ingredient through the design

ON THE WEB:
Official Crayola Web Site
The official Crayola Web site contains games for all ages, online arts and crafts, family activities, craft ideas, poetry and coloring pages.
(URL:www.crayola.com/)
Smith & Binney
There is more to the company then just crayons.
(URL: www.binney-smith.com/)
Toy Industry Hall of Fame
Inventors Edwin Binney, 1866-1934 and C. Harold Smith, 1860-1931 were inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2006.
(URL: www.toy-tia.org/)
Art Education
Providing projects and ideas for educators and information on Crayola products. Contests and more.
(URL: www.crayola.com/educators/index.cfm?n_id=5&mt=educators)
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week

Edward Binney & Harold Smith featured for their invention of Crayola Crayons
(URL: web.mit.edu/invent/iow/crayons.html)


HOW IT WORKS:

Crayola® crayons are made from two basic ingredients:paraffin wax and pigment. The wax blend is delivered to Binney & Smith in heated tanker-train cars and stored in two-story silos. for a detailed and fun explanation take the Crayola Factory Tour.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • In 1903, soon after developing them, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith sell the first box of eight Crayola crayons for one nickel. The box includes black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, and green.
  • During the Great Depression, Binney & Smith hires local farm families to hand-label crayons. Each farm becomes associated with a different color name.
  • Binney & Smith manufactures and distributes its products throughout the world and employs more than 2,600 people. Its creative products are packaged in over a dozen languages!
  • In 1996, ninety-three years after the company made its first crayon, a colorful and historic milestone is reached. The 100 billionth Crayola crayon rolls off the production line at Binney & Smith world headquarters in Easton, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1998, Crayola crayons become part of history when they enter the Smithsonian! Several historical Crayola items, including the legendary 64-count box, are placed on display and added to the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection.
  • Also in 1996, Crayola crayons also get their own 32-cent stamp! The original 1903 eight-color box is honored as part of the United States Postal Service’s "Celebrate the Century" program.
  • The average North American uses up 730 crayons by age 10.
  • Most kids spend an average of almost half an hour a day coloring.
  • Red and blue are kids' two favorite Crayola crayons.
  • Alice Binney came up with the name Crayola, by combing two French words the mean "oily chalk." The name "craie" means "chalk," and "oleaginous" means "oily."
  • Renowned American Gothic artist Grant Wood began his career with a Crayola contest. Wood later commented that winning the contest gave him the
    encouragement he needed to pursue a career in art.
Crayola® is a registered trademark of Binney & Smith.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February 23, 2007.
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