The Unusual Western Crayola Crayon Container

In the early 1960s Crayola put out a very unusual crayon item.  It was their "No 82" container which was shaped and designed as a holster and had a reusable plastic pouch to get the crayons out of.

This container is now very rare and there are probably less than five known.  It contained the large sized crayons in the standard 8 colors.

Crayola went on to use the "No 1008" container for a few years.  These weren't shaped or theme designed at all, they just continued with the reusable plastic pouch design and the larger size crayons.  They only ran for a few years and disappeared from the market.


Just who is Crayola's Tip?

With Crayola changing their large box core products to a new design this year featuring Tip, I thought it was time to ponder just who this character is and when he started.

Tip is the Crayola character/mascot that they use on many of their crayon products.  He is a characterized crayon.

He started to appear somewhere around 1992 as near as I can figure.  Crayola remains a bit mysterious on his origins when looking at their own web site and material.  Nothing new there.

He's been on virtually all the 96-sized boxes of crayons they put out but Tip does get around on various sized boxes, various crayon lines and even on the European, Canadian and Asian boxes.

With all the new sets featuring Tip, it looks like his popularity is growing, not fading.

It's not the first time Crayola has used other characters on their boxes though.  Let's look a some of the other characters drawn onto their boxes over the years.  Bear in mind that none of these have had the generic appeal or intent of Tip who was used on so many of their products:

First up is the Chummy Animals characters from one of Crayola's failed Toy Set line in the early 1920s.  Many of the Toy sets were themes and so there were a lot of one-off characters.  Very few of their boxes in the early days featured a lot of graphics.

For their Color 'n Smell line they used some graphics such as the nose and also the small mouse and shoe.  The earlier Magic Scents just had a couple of the objects to smell such as a strawberry or a rose.

Crayola's extension of their failed Toy Set line was their Kindergarten Outfit.  Every self-respecting crayon company had one of these in the 1930s and Crayola was no exception to this.  They used a Dutch boy and girl on their Outfits.

Of course, when they worked with other companies they sometimes had characters such as this space one they did for a Crayola giveaway in a McDonald's Happy Meal.

Their Mini Kids line in Europe always contained blocks to spell out the crayon line and featured a small bear.  Along with that, they used this bunny on this particular box.

With their multicultural line they drew in a world with kids in some way.  There were usually always four of them and they had different variations over the years on this line.

The My First line was another European crayon line that featured characters on the box; in this case a bear.

I thought I'd put this Tip box here as it isn't really Tip, it's more like "mini-me Tip" or Tip as a kid.  This was another European box.

The "My World Colors" was another variation of the Multicultural line of crayons and while different, this used the same theme of kids and a globe.  In this case there are five kids instead of four and they are more animated than real looking.

With the "Room Full of Fun" box they added a door exploding open with the force of all the stuff crammed inside.  This was a one-off for a promotional offer.

And while the school girl was never really on the front of their boxes, she was on nearly all of their original boxes in the back.  It's a good way to know if you have a vintage early box.

When they introduced the 72-color box, they originally had a box and his dog on it but those faded away with the actual launch design.

For their "State Your Color" event, where they offered everyone to help them name a color for their state, they used the outline of the states as characters on the box.  Generally all of their largest boxes had graphics whereas the small sized boxes didn't.

For awhile they sold their bulk crayons (crayons all of the same color ordered specifically or bought from a non-retail specific location) they used an elf.  This was the first version.

 Later they flipped the box up and created this version of the elf.

Here's another of the failed and rare Toy Set line drawn with characters.  This one, like the other I featured above, has never surfaced.  It is only through advertising that we know they existed.

For the Wizard's Giant Box of Crayons they featured Tip but they also added a lot more graphics to it.

This World-Pak box featured a plane and two kids as a promotional effort on travel.

As part of their Easter promotion they used this bunny and created a box with very Easter-like colors. you can see, it looks like Crayola did indeed do a lot of graphics over the years.  It's only when you inject these alongside over a thousand different boxes where they didn't do any that you realize how unique these particular examples were to their business model.

How to Age Date Your Crayola Boxes

Perhaps the most common question I get from readers contacting me is on the subject of just how old a particular box of crayons is.

Over time, I figured this out by comparing pictures from periodicals, price lists and catalogs to determine when Crayola used a particular design on their boxes and when they switched that design for another.

And while there are a lot of very detailed minor changes within some of their box designs, a good time measurement can be gained using the following as your guide:

The Ornate:  This design was used on their crayon boxes from 1905 to 1928.  Most likely your box will be in the range from 1910 to 1928 as the first five years was used exclusively for the No 8 box and has an Eagle on the Gold Medal and not two people.  There are further age clues based on whether the box says "Paris" or "USA" on the bottom front.  The USA one is the newer of the two variations and didn't start until 1919.

The Triangle:  This design was used from 1928 to 1933.  There were two variations.  One where the flap has a similar design around the box number and one without.  The one without is the newer and didn't come out until 1932 which means it was only around two years and therefore isn't one you'll find surfacing that often.

The Cyclone:  This design was a short lived design that lasted only one year:  1934.  That doesn't mean it is necessarily rare as I've seen a fair amount of these surface over the years.

The Octogon:  This design was used from 1935 to 1940.  There are two variations to help age these further.  One will mention "USA" and one will not.  They dropped the "USA" in 1938.

The Square:  This was used from 1941 to 1945.  I actually named this one incorrectly as it should be a rectangle but the key is that it is fairly similar in design to the Octogon versions except they squared off the corners instead and they dropped the large "C" and "A" on the Crayola and used uniform letter size.

The Arch:  This design was used from 1946 to 1949.

The GM (Gold Medal):  This design was used for many years.  It ran from 1950 to 1956 and there were three different variations along the way.  The earliest two were before Binney & Smith (now Crayola) incorporated in 1955 and therefore had "Co" instead of "Inc" on them.  But the earliest of those two did not have a registered trademark symbol above the Crayola name.  That was something they added in 1953.  Also important is the introduction of the "chevrons"; those angled lines on each side of the front of the box.

The Oval:  This design was used for a very long time.  It ran from 1956 to 1978!  In those 22 years with that particular logo, they had many variations.  If the Crayola name was arched then those were the earliest of this design running from 1956 until 1965.  There were two variations.  The earliest (1956 to 1961) will not say "Non-Toxic" on the front while the later does.  After 1965 they switched over to a non-arching Crayola name for the rest of the years.  There three variations of that design too.  The earliest (1966 to 1969) will mention New York on it.  The one without it ran from 1970 to 1976.  The very last variation added reference to the size of the crayons on it and ran from 1977 to 1978.

The Wavy:  From 1979 to 1987 Crayola used a different logo on their boxes.  Over the course of that time they went from a very thin font style with the Crayola name to a very thick version.  The thin version ran from 1979 to 1984 and the other from 1985 to 1987.

The Trap:  By the latter part of the 1980s, the company split up their crayon boxes.  Those bound for retail had hanger tabs on the top of them (except for the larger sized boxes) and those going to schools or sold commercially continued with the traditional tuck boxes.  The newly created hanger tab boxes came with a trapezoid window on them that allowed you to see the crayons.  Designs with this window get confusing because they used these windows for a lot of European boxes that doesn't necessarily correspond in date to their main Crayola line in the USA.  Similarly, specialty boxes started to come out.  Many of the Fluorescent boxes used a trapezoid window on them; even tuck boxes.  Anyway, this core design on the hanger tab boxes ran only in 1987 before they moved to a new design altogether.

The DTC (Development Through Creativity):  From 1988 to 1989 they were experimenting with a whole new logo on their boxes that never really took off and they dropped it in 1989.  But during their redesign, they also went to a much brighter green color on the boxes and this was the transition from the older color hues to the more current modern color hues.  The retail version with the hanger tab also switched over to a "smiling face" open window from the trapezoid version.

The Thick:  From 1990 to 1996 they stuck with a very basic thick font on the Crayola name to identify their crayon boxes.  During this time, the hanger tab boxes had variations of what they said in their upper right.  The earlier ones would save "Different Brilliant Colors" and the latter ones "Non-Toxic".  The latter ones not showing up until 1992.

The Rainbow Underline (RU):  This design ran from 1997 to 2002 and came with several minor variations to help break down the age of the box.  If it had big green lettering for the number of crayons in the box then that version ran from 1997 to 1999.  After that they switched to red lettering.

The Smile:  In 2003 they went with the fact that their window showing the actual crayons looked sort of like a smile with crayon teeth and they designed a mock window looking just like that.  They also added a crayon squiggle logo to their boxes.  The squiggle logo only lasted until 2005 but the smile logo continued up until current day.

The Rainbow Smile (RS):  It's a bit confusing but they introduced a variation incorporating the smile and the rainbow into a design that first appeared in 2003 and was used on various crayon lines clear up to current times.  This wasn't, however, used with their standard No 8,16, etc.

The Preferred by Teachers:  On several of their core sizes such as the No 8, 16, etc. they went with a design that used a "Preferred by Teachers" on it.  There were two variations of this.  The first was in blue and ran from 2006 until 2011.  The next was in red and ran from 2011 until 2014.

Of course, there will be more changes in the future to add on to this guide and among different sizes such as the large boxes there are different aging clues.  Similarly, their other brands and crayon lines have their own distinctions or exceptions.  But these serve as a good guideline for general age across their product offerings.

Crayola in 2015 - A Look Back on What's New and What's Changed

I have a little catching up to do here on the blog as I missed reporting on anything in 2014 and there was a lot happening on the Crayola crayon front.  But let's start with this year as there were many changes this year too.

The Minion set came out in 2015.  It was another set of theme'd boxes with 8 colors and available in Target stores.  The big news there was the introduction of a new color:  banana bonanza.

Each box in the set contained this new crayon color along with specially chosen colors from Crayola's catalog of active colors.  This was all for the promotion of the Minions movie that came out during the summer of 2015.  Crayola also did a Pip Squeaks set too.

There were also changes to their standard product line.  They redesigned the larger boxes (64, 96 and 120) to bring back Tip on them.  Interestingly, each box is different in design; they didn't just clone one image of Tip and use it on all three box sizes.  No changes to the color line ups here though.

There are always sets that include crayons along with other art mediums that Crayola offers and this year they also added the Crayola Color Can.  This is a combination set of Twistable crayons, colored pencils and markers.  There are 20 different Twistable crayons in this set; all of which are part of the standard color names they offer so nothing new here for you color name collectors.

But fear not, Crayola wasn't done there.  They introduced an award winning Color Alive set that features not only new colors but a revolutionary way to color and then bring the coloring into the digital world.  These are dated 2014 but showed up int 2015 to retail.  They brought us 6 new colors too which I featured in a previous post on here.

As in previous years, with the addition of all these theme'd sets and new concepts, we can happily say that Crayola is not resting on their dominance laurels at all.  And as collectors, we benefit from their ambitions.

Star Wars and Crayons

Science Fiction hasn't really been a great source of crayon licensee material in the past.  While Star Trek has had several TV series and movies, the only thing ever put out for it was from Avalon back in the late 1970s!  

Star Wars, another incredibly popular series of movies, didn't even have a crayon licensee until the early 2000s and then it was only a single Rose Art 16-color box.

Well, 2015 changed all that.  Crayola contracted with Disney who now owns the rights to Star Wars and has begun to put out various Star Wars crayon and toy items.

But it wasn't the first time they have tried anything Star Wars.  This item was released several years ago in Canada.

They have also been doing a slow production of various Star Wars products outside of their straight crayon box line:

And while most of these have been one off introductions, in 2015 we saw a full focused licensee launch of Star Wars items in time for the new movie and Christmas shopping.  For us crayon collectors, it gave us four new No 64 boxes to get.  Two of those could be found in special collectors tins.

The other two are available as straight crayon boxes in retail stores and online at their web site (among other places).

Of course, none of these introduced any new colors or wrappers inside these boxes though.

They also introduced several other items as part of their licensed catalog:

For all of us crayon collectors out there, I hope the licensee trend continues as it provides a lot of fun additions to your collection.