Once upon a time another crayon company stole Crayola's look and feel

It doesn't matter how advanced your collection gets, there is always something out there that you didn't know about and have never seen.  Case in point, even though my collection had over 60,000 crayons in it, I got an email from Phyllis Tompkins a fellow collector the other day who had found my website and wrote to share her own collection.  She had been collecting far longer than I had; nearly 30 years.  And although her collection was small in comparison to mine (I was aggressive and obsessive in my pursuit of crayons), it had a number of great boxes that I had never seen before.  I was impressed.

One of my favorite discoveries in her collection was a different crayon brand by Bliss Crayon & Color Works.  Other than also being headquartered in New York, I could never find out anything about this company.  Nothing other than the single crayon box I had in my collection.  But it was a great one.  The drawing on the back was terrific; something that most boxes don't have.  

  

For years I had what I believed to be the one surviving example of a crayon box by this company.  Still, having collected for a long time, I knew that usually doesn't stay that way forever.

Sure enough, she had a box of Crayobar crayons from the same company!  What I find especially interesting is that this box looks strikingly like the Crayola No 16 box that they put out from 1928 to 1932.



It makes for an interesting debate on whether or not they stole and capitalized on Crayola's success by using their look and feel without violating copyright laws.  Clearly Bliss Crayon & Color Works didn't steal Crayola's trademark name although their name is fairly similar.  Clearly their box has different features.  They have a window; Crayola didn't at this time in their history.  But the design around the "Crayobar" vs "Crayola", the opening tab design, the lined border and even the same color as Crayola sure shows that they were trying to capitalize on Crayola's look and feel.  At this point in Crayola's history they had already gained significant momentum in their quest for crayon domination.  Their branding efforts for a look and feel were instrumental in their success along with other factors (quality, price point, etc.).

If I saw this lying on a desk, at a quick glance I wouldn't necessarily have even noticed that it wasn't Crayola.  I wonder how much, if any, this tactic helped in their sales.

But even beyond this curiosity, this box helps provide a little more information on the crayon company.  The only thing I had going before the discovery of Phyllis's box was that based on the drawings and design of the box, it was clearly prior to 1950.  But with a patent pending on Crayobar and a trademark, now I could look those up.  Even if I couldn't find anything on them I do have the logical deduction that this would have been during the exact same time frame that Crayola put out this particular box design and that I had already clearly documented.

Alas, searching old trademarks and patents isn't easy.  Nothing came up under the Trademark database and there is no search capability in the patents for one that old.  I would have to go through an image of each on submitted within those years.  That is a bit too laborious for even me.  So, all I know now is that this company producted both Bliss crayons and Crayobar crayons and they were in business sometime from probably 1929 up to an unknown date.  This is how I help document the history of the crayon, one bit of information at a time.  Some mysteries are slower to solve than others.  But it still feels like you are a sort of private eye...

Crayola Name the New Blue Contest


Well, the naming of the new blue color for Crayola's replacement from the retiring Dandelion is one step closer.  The general naming ended early June and now people are voting on the five final color names. 



From almost 90,000 submissions, Crayola selected the following finalists for the new blue hue: Dreams Come Blue, Bluetiful, Blue Moon Bliss, Reach for the Stars and Star Spangled Blue.  People can vote until Aug 31, 2017 on the finalists.

Here's the process:

First, you have to go to the Crayola website and enter your Birthday.


After that, they show you the five final color names with mock ups of each color as it would look on the crayon wrapper.
  
Check the one you like and fill in your data for the contest and then they will show you where the current voting stands for each one.



As you will recall, Crayola introduced the change during National Crayon Day back in May 2017 and promptly started the Naming Contest for the new blue.  The new blue is based on a based on a pigment discovered in 2009 by a chemistry team at Oregon State University, believed to be the first new blue pigment discovered in 200 years. 

Crayola opted not to use the pigment's name of YInMn Blue, after its chemical makeup of yttrium, indium and manganese oxides and went with the naming contest as they have done in years past.
 
The final five blue colors were based on three categories: creativity, uniqueness, and capturing the innovation in the new blue pigment. 

The winner will be revealed in Sep 2017 with the new color showing up at the end of the year or by early 2018.

100 Years of Colour in the UK


This box came out in Europe last year. I'll bet no collector ever saw it either. It celebrates the 100th year Crayola has been in Europe


Crayola did a Crayola Bus Tour that stopped at various retailers around the UK, and invited kids and adults alike to celebrate ‘100 years of colour’ with games, themed play areas and performers.


It went from August 24th to September 3rd. The Crayola branded double-decker bus visited locations across the UK with dedicated play areas featuring the Crayola My First and Toy products.


The tour stopped off at a selection of Toys R Us, Smyths and Hobbycraft stores up and down the country, targeting key back to school buying periods over the end of the summer holidays.
 

Pip and Tip Crayola character performers were on hand to guide families through the various games and activities. And, they produced this commemorative box to mark to occasion.



Of course, the majority (if not all) of crayon collectors are in the USA or Canada and they likely didn't catch this event and acquire the box made for it.

But the good news? As of Jun 2017, there were still 10 boxes left on Amazon.uk!

Dandelion Retires And A New Blue Color Is About To Be Named


Now that Crayola has formally announced the retirement of Dandelion, much to ire of die-hard color customers, they are in full swing promoting the naming of their new blue crayon that will replace Dandelion.  

Of course, the big announcement on of Dandelion on National Crayon Day didn't go as planned.  Those pesky retailers already had boxes of crayons with the printing of its retirement on the box out in the retail shelves a couple of days early despite Crayola trying to control that debut date.  The crayon collecting community had word of it immediately but we didn't spoil their surprise and just waited.  Apparently we weren't the only ones and Crayola was forced to announce it early.  Okay, fine, they rolled with it and did their celebration promotion on 5th Avenue anyway.

Meanwhile, you've got an uproar in your customer base by choosing Dandelion.  These days it is odd that they are still sticking with their old ways from the 1990s by retiring colors to make room for new colors.  Really, Crayola?  Your palette is so big that you can't add a new color?  Now, I guess any publicity is good publicity (well, unless you were United Airlines recently) so this will bolster awareness and crayon sales.

Still, why couldn't they have put Dandelion on the bench and simply removed it from the No 24, 64, 120 boxes without having to take it out of their entire color palette?  Then again, we crayon collectors know that it isn't truly gone.  Right now you can order special boxes of just Dandelion.  Crayola even promotes that.
 
You can also get a huge crayon of it if you don't want to run out.  Crayola has been selling 2lb crayons recently and the retirement of one color should sell a lot of Dandelion.
 
And now with the retirement tour over, Crayola has turned their attention to the renaming contest.  They've official revealed the new Blue color.  Here's the data on it:

When a new blue pigment called YInMn (yin-min) was discovered in 2009 by Mas Subramanian, a chemistry professor at Oregon State University, we (Crayola) were very excited. This discovery is the first new blue pigment in 200 years and is the inspiration for the new blue crayon color. Now, we need your help. The new blue crayon needs a name, so submit your Name Ideas and be entered for a chance to win!

Of course, the new color created a new uproar because many felt that Dandelion didn't have a lot of close colors from which to choose in the Yellow family where as the new blue, despite the fact that it may be a new blue color pigment, many simply couldn't tell much of a difference between it and other blues.  It wasn't worth the sacrifice for another blue even though polls told Crayola that the Blue family was what their customers wanted the most.


Nevertheless, Crayola is now in full swing of their repetitive ways of doing a public naming contest to decide the name of the new Blue.





Of course, let us not forget that they did another naming contest back in 1992 after officially retiring a bunch of colors in 1990.  Which ironically, Dandelion was one of the new colors introduced through a contest.  Yes, it is a bit odd that people are crying over a color that has only been around for 25 years where some colors are over 110 years old!



Still, even if the new blue isn't exactly that different from what they already offer, it won't be their worst color blunder.  That distinction goes to the introduction of the No 64 box back in 1958 when they did a major color overhaul and put both Light Blue and Sky Blue in the original boxes.  These too colors were so identical, they quickly removed Light Blue from their color line up and quickly replaced it with Turquoise Blue, making Light Blue one of the rarer crayons to get if you collect Crayola's crayons (which many people do).




Personally, if I were head of the Crayola Marketing department, I'd be getting together with the company's corporate historian and taking advantage of their complex color heritage by introducing back some of the original forgotten colors that they have never publicly acknowledged (English Vermilion, Van Dyke Brown, Chrome Green, Gamboge Yellow, etc. etc.)  At one time I understand, they didn't have much on their history.  They do now.  They bought my private collection back in 2014 and have the physical crayons to be able to re-engineer those colors.  They have my timeline history on this website (I shared my research with them).  They could be adding to their palette through a lot of different promotions based on their history.  Companies like Coca-Cola, Levis, Nike, Harley Davidson, Budweiser do this successfully all the time.  Nobody is going to complain about adding to the color palette.  So, Crayola, embrace some new ideas by embracing your old ones!

Crayola is Retiring another color on National Crayon Day 2017

In March 2017 Crayola has their consumers in a stir once again as their announcement to retire one of their colors from the No 24 box.  Now, whether they have said for the first time in history or whether they meant "for the first time on National Crayon Day", this is by no means the first time they have "retired" something from this box.  That is, if you take a color disappearing forever as a retirement.  Let's look at the history.


Way back before anyone can remember, the No 24 box evolved from the Rubens Crayola line.  That was a complimentary line from their Crayola line that targeted artists.  They put out their 24 color box in 1903/1904. It contained the following colors:

BLACK, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Chr. Green DK, Chr. Green L, Chr. Green M, Ch. Yellow Med, Cobalt Blue, Eng. Vermilion, Flesh Tint, Gold Ochre, Indian Red, Madder Lake, Magenta, Olive Green, ORANGE, Prussian Blue, Raw Umber, Rose Pink, Ven. Reds, Ult. Blue, VIOLET, WHITE, YELLOW (note that Chr. is short for "chrome", M is short for "medium", DK is short for "dark".

The majority of these original colors have been renamed or vanished without any publicity or public outrage.  I guess you could say they were "retired" if Crayola would only acknowledge those old colors in the first place.  As time went on, the Rubens box morphed into the regular Crayola line as the No. 24 box.  The year was 1935.  The transition was gradual as they kept Rubens (he was a master painter) face on the boxes but renamed the box.  Eventually they removed Rubens altogether.  The colors in that first No. 24 transition box with the new Crayola numbering were:

BLACK,BLUE,BLUE-GREEN, BLUE-VIOLET, BROWN, BURNT SIENNA, DARK GREEN, GOLD OCHRE, GREEN, MIDDLE BLUE-GREEN, NEUTRAL-GRAY, OLIVE GREEN, ORANGE, PRUSSIAN BLUE, RED, RED-ORANGE, RED-VIOLET, ROSE PINK, TURQUOISE BLUE, VIOLET, WHITE, YELLOW, YELLOW-GREEN, YELLOW-ORANGE.

As you can see, they have already had colors disappear from either of these boxes.  Given that the current box as of 2014 (have they changed?) has the color assortment:
apricot, black, blue, blue green, blue violet, brown, carnation pink, cerulean, dandelion, gray, green, green yellow, indigo, orange, red, red orange, red violet, scarlet, violet (purple), violet red, white, yellow, yellow green, yellow orange

So in reality, we have only five colors that still have the same name in that No 24 box:  Black, Orange, Violet, White and Yellow.  Apricot didn't become an color until 1958, Blue has changed its original color twice.  Once in 1935 and once in 1949 so the blue you are coloring on today wasn't the blue people colored on back in 1903/1904.  Besides, the original box contained Ultramarine Blue anyway.  That color was discontinued back in 1958 when they redid many of their colors for the introduction of the 64-color box.  Blue Green has only been around since 1930 as that color name.  It originally came from a buyout of Munsell Color Corp. where they inherited the unique color back in 1926 as Middle Blue Green.  Blue Violet originated in 1930 but has changed its color back in 1958 and was called Violet Blue even.  Brown has been around since 1903 unchanged but they didn't use it in the original boxes under the Rubens line, instead choosing to include Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber instead (and Burnt Umber disappeared back in 1949).  Carnation Pink has only been around as a color name since 1958 but the actual color wass the same as Rose Pink which was in the original No 24 box so that color has been there under different names for the entire time.  Cerulean and Dandelion are  relatively new colors, having been introduction in 1990.  Obviously each time something gets added to the box, something goes away.  Gray wasn't introduced as a name until 1956 because it used to be called Nuetral Gray and that color was introduced in 1926 and didn't show up until the transitional No 24 box in 1935.  Green wasn't in the original box either as they were Chrome Green colors back then (light, middle and dark).  Those colors disappeared early (middle and dark in 1910 and light in 1935 during the transition box.  Even the original Green from 1903 changed color in 1930.  Green Yellow didn't come around until 1958.  Indigo is a very recent color, introducted in 1999.  Red wasn't in the original box.  They used English Vermilion and Indian Red in it originally.  It showed up during the transition box in 1935.  The color red has stayed consistent throughout.  Red Orange, Red Violet, Violet Red, Yellow Green and Yellow Orange were all introduced in 1930 back when Crayola used a color wheel approach.  Scarlet is also a more recent color coming in 1998 from the series of new color promotions they did back then.

As you can see, the No 24 has a long history and the colors have not been static at all.  Crayola's color history is also much more complex than simply a few retirements.  Renamings and disappearances were done throughout their history.  In today's world, yes, they "retire" colors but it is no different than the dropping colors of colors from before except that now there is a big promotional production around doing so.

And while you may be happy or sad on the color they choose to retire, understand it is merely a drop in the vast color ocean of changes that have been happening all along over their 110+ year history.

Crayola's Other Crayon Products

We all just think of "Crayola" now as the company and the brand.  While the Crayola brand of crayons have been around since 1903 and dominated the market since the 1920s, it is sometimes confusing that the company had a different name (Binney & Smith) and that it has had many different crayon products other than just "Crayola".  Let's take a look.

ANTI-ROLL




It's unclear when these were introduced, probably some time in the early 1950s given that the box says "Co" which means they were before they incorporated in 1956.  They were one of the first non-rolling crayon with a flat side to prevent them.  They hung around until late 1970s and were then morphed over into their Arista crayon line.

ARISTA

Arista is an artist line that showed up in the 1980s and carried on the anti-roll line of crayons along with other products such as oil pastel crayons.  They are still sold to this day.

BESCO



Besco was a line of pressed crayons that started in 1927.  Pressed crayons are much heavier than molded crayons and are used in artistic and industrial arenas.  The brand stayed around until the late 1970s.

BLUE JAY


Although this doesn't indicate Binney & Smith, it was made by them on contract from Blackwell-Wielandy.  They did three known sizes and these are difficult to find.

BOSTON


Boston was an earlier pressed crayon product than Besco.  They started this line back in 1915 and continued with them until they transitioned to Besco.  You can find Boston crayon boxes clear up to 1932 so there was some stock overlap as Besco started up in 1927.

CERATA


Cerata was designed as a lower cost crayon line.  This was a redo of their initial Cerola crayon line that was extremely short lived.  Cerata crayons came out in 1912 with this ornate box and later they developed more standard looking boxes that weren't as interesting as during this period of their business.  They survived into the 1930s.

CEROLA


Binney & Smith's first attempt at a lower cost crayon line was Cerola and this is the only known box.  It came out in 1911 and was quickly replaced by the Cerata line.

CHIC'AGO


This is another extremely rare only-one-known box from their Chic'Ago pastel crayon line.  This was only around from 1930-1934.

CRAYOLET


Crayolet was a crayon line sort of like a "Crayola Lite" and it was more successful than Cerata because it lasted from 1926 (with another fantastic box design that was shortly lived) to the late 1970s.

DOO ZEE


Doo Zee was their last attempt at a lower cost crayon line.  It was designed to compete with all the cheap Chinese contract crayons coming in and populating stores as house brands.  It only lasted in 2001 and as it wasn't a success they sold off the inventory of crayons to a third party and various collectors found them used in something else entirely.

DRAWELL



This was another contract brand with no indication that they produced it but I'd run across some documents showing so during my years of research.  It's a mystery to me as to when they started this and when they stopped but it lived long enough of have two distinct box designs over the years.  Most likely this was 1920s to 1940s.

DUREL



Durel was a very early pressed crayon product that was introduced in 1909 and continued up until WWII when they were having trouble sourcing colors and after the war they dropped this line completely.

EASY-OFF
Easy-Off was introduced in 1972 as another washable crayon line.  They also moved to the larger sized crayons although they had used that size clear back in 1903 for a couple of their Rubens crayon boxes before phasing them out for decades.  This line didn't make it passed the 1970s though.

FUGITIVE


Binney & Smith has had a whole catalog of industrial crayon products going back to even a year earlier than their Crayola crayon line in 1903.  This is just one of many.  It is very difficult to know the run years for these.  This particular box, the only one I've ever seen, is pre-1956 though.

GOTHAM



Gotham is another industrial crayon line.  There are a couple of known examples of this brand that have surfaced.  They seem to be from the mid 1950s to early 1960s.

MUNSELL



Crayola acquired Munsell Color's crayon line back in 1926.  Prior to this, Munsell was widely regarded as the state-of-the-art high end crayon to have.  Crayola has already begun to dominate the market as the best crayon at an affordable price; something they wanted to expand upon and by buying Munsell, they grabbed the high end too.  Initially, they created Munsell-Crayola and Munsell-Perma boxes using the unique colors and by 1934 phased them out and incorporated the colors into their own evolving palette.

PERMA



Perma debuted in 1920 as yet another pressed crayon targeted toward artists.  The crayon line survived until the 1980s.

POCKET


This is another only-one-known example from Binney & Smith's industrial side of their crayons.  However, these came in a box similar to what they would use many years later for Crayola, holding four crayons.  They also used a different company name although the address is that of Crayola's headquarters at the time.  These were probably only around from 1903-1910.

POOH


Crayola didn't do a lot of licensed characters like their competitors, but they did dabble in them on occasion.  One such case if Winnie the Pooh.  These came out just for 1996/1997 and were gone.

PORTFOLIO


More recently Crayola started the Portfolio line of artist products which included oil pastels; a close cousin of coloring crayons as a color medium.  I'm not entirely sure when they started but they still produce them to this day.

RUBENS


Crayola's most famous artist line of crayons was Rubens.  These started right from the inception of crayons in 1903/1904 and continued on until they were incorporated into the Crayola line around the 1930s.

SPECTRA


Spectra was a pastel line of crayons that went back 1917 and continued on until around WWII when it also was phased out after the war.

STAONAL



Staonal is the oldest crayon line the company has.  It came out the year before Crayola and is on the industrial side of their business.  It continues in various forms to this day

TINY TOTS



It was thought early one that little kids needed little crayons as they had little hands.  The reality is they do better with just the opposite but these were targeted for just that back in 1924 when they came out.  They only lasted until 1934.

WASHABLE



Crayola was playing around with Washable crayons as early as the late 1950s.  This line only lasted a few years though.

WIDSTROK



Here's another obscure mystery pressed crayon they did.  This was an only-one-known but has since been destroyed in a fire so now no known examples exist.  Not sure what dates this ran but suspect this box ran from 1934-1937.

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.