A Look at Some Surprisingly Rarer and Valuable Crayola Crayon Boxes

 If you collect Crayola containers or even if you just happened to have acquired one from somewhere and are wondering if it is common or something really special, it can be difficult to know from just looking out on eBay to figure that out.  You can go through my website data but even then there are several thousand containers by Crayola alone and it can get overwhelming.  So lets take a look at some boxes that are rare and do bring value.  Most of the ones I've chosen to focus on here aren't necessarily old.  The oldest Crayola boxes are almost always certainly rare and valuable.  I'll do a post on that subject another time but for now, let's look at some surprising examples of what collectors look for:


This first example is one of the largest packaging containers Crayola has ever done.  It also happens to be extremely rare despite coming out in the 1990s.  I got one from another collector when he sold his collection but in the 18+ years I was looking at what crayon boxes surfaced on eBay, Etsy and other sources, this NEVER showed up.  My box is now in the corporate archives of Crayola and to my knowledge, I don't know of another example of this.  This will definitely fetch some good money as collectors are watching for it.


This next box was a compilation of Special Effect crayons that Crayola put out in 1999 after launching many, many different kinds of "special effect" crayons in the prior years.  For whatever reason, this box has always been difficult to find.  There are a few examples out there but this box is always in demand and watched for.  In 2019 and 2020 Crayola revamped a number of their special effect offerings and put out two very large compilation boxes but even though shouldn't diminish the value of this one.  Keep an eye out for it.

While technically this next container is a Crayola No 92 (says so at the bottom of the front of the container), everyone knows this as the Holster container.  They put this out sometime in the 1960s and it is very rare.  At the time I had mine, it was the only one known but recently I had a reader write to me to say that he had one so I guess there might be a couple of survivors out there.  Still, this is not only highly sought after but valuable as well given the uniqueness of the package.  It was a spin-off of their No 1000 series of resealable containers that they sold in the 1960s.  None of them are common and all of them are reasonably desirable but the holster sets itself apart in that category.

This is one of the two variations from the 1008 re-usable containers.  Any of these should be looked for as they are not common and desirable.


The Crayola Pizazz Pak was another compilation container that Crayola put out in 1993.  This one combined some crayons from their Glitter line and their Neon line.  In the early 2000s you would occasionally see this box show up for sale but it has gotten much scarcer over the years and is still desirable although not nearly as desirable as the Special Effects 48-color box I showed you earlier.  Still, it is one to keep an eye out for.


Crayola (which was Binney & Smith) used to experiment with a number of more inexpensive lines of crayons on occasion.  This one is older (pre-1956) and very rare.  In fact, the one I had was the only one I'd ever seen or heard of.  Definitely one to watch for because it might get overlooked since it isn't a "Crayola" box.


The Imagination Station boxes were a set of boxes put out by Crayola very early on in the late 1980s and feature a number of their different types of crayons.  One box has Fluorescent crayons, one has Metallic and the very first box had pastels.  These were combination assortments as some of their colors were just from their standard catalog of Crayola colors.  Interestingly, these are quite rare; they almost never surface and they bring a decent value if they do.  Good luck finding these now.

These next two 64-color boxes were commemorative boxes that Crayola did in 1998 when both Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were chasing and passing Babe Ruth's long standing record for most home runs in a season.  Of course, this was before the doping scandal revealed that they were taking steroids and put a damper on all the excitement of the time.  These aren't actually unique boxes, they simply added a sleeve to go over the box but these are incredibly rare to find.  In fact, they ones I had were the only ones I knew about.  I would expect some to surface at some point as baseball collectors should have snapped these up as well.  And that will add to the value of these because crayon collectors have to compete with baseball collectors if they show up on an open market like eBay.


Our next box is one of the No 120 assortments.  These were among the largest assortment lines Crayola had.  Occasionally they would put out something with more crayons but not on a regular basis whereas this is a proper Crayola line that has been offered for years and with many design variations over those years.  True Blue Heroes was a promotion they ran in 1997 and they put out the promotion on a number of their assortment box sizes.  This was their largest and because the No 120 line just isn't carried in as many places as say the No 64, it is much, much harder to find  I had a friend that had one and I knew of another one but in 14 years looking, I never found one for my collection.  They are extremely rare and carry some value as collectors are looking for it.


Okay, perhaps it is unfair to include these boxes as they are specially made to commemorate an event and as such, very few people had access to get them.  Still, should you happen to come across one or should they show up online, grab them if you can because they are extremely sought after by collectors.  There are others too; I've just highlighted these.  The first was a giveaway for the Toy Fair in 2017.  The Toy Fair is run annually in New York in February and is the primary venue for showing new product coming and Crayola on occasion makes a commemorative crayon box for the event.  They've done this twice that I know of.  This one is even more special because the color names are unique; they are named after famous things in New York.  The other two boxes are commemorative boxes that celebrate National crayon; a day set aside in March of every year.  On at least two occasions they've made a special box for that event.  These two happen to be from 2016 and 2017.  All of these boxes will fetch good money as collectors are watching for them.

These next two People Pack boxes are probably unfair to feature as well because there are simply so many Canadian and European Crayola boxes that are hard to get.  But collectors really focus on the various lines of Crayola's efforts at addressing diversity with their crayons.  I chose to focus on these because they represent an effort in Canada and the UK that are quite rare among the many other diversity lines Crayola has done.  The Canadian one is by far the most desirable and rarest of the two but both are desirable and tough to find.  It could take many years for one to surface.


This box is older but certainly not part of their original line up.  I featured it because it is an only-one-known and I have preached in the past that this box is a complete mystery to me.  I had the box but it doesn't follow any of Crayola's assortment line designs.  Sure, they used that logo at the top on some boxes but never in a green box.  This was an 8-color box.  They already had their No 8 and the various design changes in that are well documented with not real gaps in time that this one would have been used.  This is one of those boxes that could easily get overlooked even though it is extremely rare and mysterious.  Watch for it.

These next two boxes are actually quite common boxes but Crayola chose to replace some or all of the crayons in them with special sport-themed crayons to promote sporting events.  The first one is the most desirable because all of the crayons in it are unique.  They slapped a 76ers sticker on the front and these were either given away at a game or sold at the game; I'm not sure which.  As far as I know, I had the only one that has ever surfaced to the collector community.  Each crayon had the name of a Philadelphia 76ers player's favorite color on it.  The second one was also for a specific game.  One of the Philadelphia Eagles football games.  I'm not exactly sure when this was.  Only one has ever surfaced.  It showed up in the early 2000s on eBay.  I bid on it but made the mistake of not bidding enough and somebody else won it.  It might have been a football collector.  None have ever surfaced since.

I have featured this box before.  It was an only-one-known that a fellow collector friend of mine had.  His collection burned in a tragic house fire and so there are no other examples of this known at present.  This was obviously from the 1960s when the space age was of interest to everyone.  This was a one-off of the Crayola No 72 line and it is not only extremely rare but also equally desirable.


If you around collecting in 2003/2004 you might have had an opportunity to get one of these.  It was the final run box Crayola did in Bedford, England.  That was (and still is) their European headquarters and for decades they actually made crayons there.  These are much harder to find now and kind of a sentimental box for crayon collectors as it marks the end of an era.


This is another European box and it occasionally shows up..  It featured 3 Magic Scent boxes and as that has morphed into Silly Scents these days, it is still a desirable box to find although it won't command a whole lot of money.


I missed this box back in 2008 as it was a Walmart exclusive.  What makes them valuable is they have a set of 9 uniquely named scented crayons in it.  It took me years to find one of these.  There are a couple of them out there but it is very hard to find and will fetch a little bit more money as a result.

There are many, many other boxes I could feature here and I certainly haven't covered the older stuff but this should help you identify some of the rarer and desirable boxes Crayola has done.  Now good luck finding any of them!







Crayola's Special Effect Crayons

As 2020 rolled into the back-to-school season, while we weren't even sure what that meant while Covid was still around, Crayola moved forward with their roll out.  They introduced two brand new Special Effect assortment boxes.


There is a reason for the two sets.  In 2019 Crayola set about revamping many of their Special Effect crayons by expanding each product line with more colors and using the opportunity to rename both colors and even the product lines in some cases.

For 2019 they revamped four product lines:  Glitter, Neon (which was Neons), Pearl (which was Pearl Brites) and Metallic (and technically they had been using Metallic FX for decades)

Then in 2020 they added another:  Confetti (which was a revamp of Crayola Mix-Ups)


But really, to understand Crayola's special effect crayons, we have to establish what is and what is not a special effect line of crayons.

The simplest definition is that  special effect crayons do something other than lay down their colors.

Before we take a look at how many Crayola has (or had), let's take a look at some of the crayon product lines that are NOT special effects.

First we don't want to confuse special effects with special purpose.  Special purpose crayons have been around since their inception.  Staonal was created before even Crayola and it is certainly a special purpose crayon.  They are used for industrial applications.  Here are some more examples:


Then we have other types of crayon product lines that also are not special effect crayons.  These are crayons from Washable to Erasable to crayons that lay a thick rich amount to oil pastels.  Here are some examples:


So with that established, what product lines are special effect crayons.  Well, through their history we have many.  They started with Fluorescent back in 1972 and many of their product lines were in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Some were successful and had long runs and many were not and were only around for 2-4 years.  Here's a visual:


Finally, lets take a look at the product run dates for all of these.  When were they available?  I've created a timeline to visually show them.


Going back to the assortment of crayons, even that has been done before.  In the 1990s they did some boxes with groupings such as "Glitter and Neons" but they had one 48-color box in 1999 that was specifically called Special Effects.  For collectors, it is a highly desirable box and not that easy to find.


If you are interest in more detail, I have some product line pages on my website that give full details on each product line (history, photos of all the box variations, colors, crayons, etc.).  Not all product lines are there yet.  I'm slowly adding to it so check back every so often (be sure to refresh the page...sometimes your cache will only show the older version of the page and you might miss new links).



An Amazing Life Story Behind the Creator of the Scribbles Crayon Box

Research is so interesting.  Consider this crayon box:




You could have this box as part of your crayon collection and not even think twice about the back story.  But in this case, it has a very interesting back story.

Elvy Kalep was responsible for producing this crayon box.  


It was an integral part of the company that she created where she was making dolls with blank faces and providing a box of crayons for children to color the faces on them and wipe them off and do another.  And that might be enough to know for a collector but you’d be missing so much more to the back story.


Elvy Kaep was born in Estonia in 1909 and she witnessed the first shot fired in the Russian Revolution as a young girl after fleeing Estonia from the Russian Kaisers. She managed to escape Russia but it took 8 years behind the Iron Curtain and through the Far East before she ended up in Paris and studied art there. Then she went to Germany and had taken up flying, bobsled competition and race car driving. She wrote a children's book on aviation that had a forward by Amelia Earhart. 


While she was in Germany she was advised to flee as Hitler grew more powerful there. She escaped to the Netherlands with the money from the sale of her plane hidden in a candy box. There she studied blind flying. She made it to New York in 1932 and did her aviation flying until the war. She was close friends with Amelia Earhart and her disappearance impacted Elvy's world. 

Elvy with Amelia Earhart and other pioneering female pilots

During the war she started her business selling dolls with a parachute that she created. She was forced to close the business in 1946 due to health issues and had no money after covering her health costs. 


She made money for several years selling toy designs to other firms and then in 1950 when she was recovered, she started the Scribbles doll based on an idea from the hundreds of blank doll heads left over from her earlier business. The Scribbles doll lasted only a decade and later she began to work with leather as a medium making mosaics that fascinated the art world. She had shows in the 1960s and 1970s for that particular art.  Her paintings and art were collected around the world. 


She lived to be 90 and died in Lake Worth, FL where she had been living for many decades.

Elvy at 88

All of this great story starting from one crayon box!

Crayola Expands to Embrace Color Inclusiveness with their new "Colors of the World" Release

Crayola is set to launch their newly formulated "Colors of the World" crayon box to address the myriad of human skin colors.


The new box contains 32 specially formulated colors.  24 of those colors were designed to represent 40 unique skin colors.  These will come out in a 24-color box and there will also be a 32-color box offering that includes and additional 4 colors to represent hair colors and another 4 to represent eye colors.


“With the world growing more diverse than ever before, Crayola hopes our new Colors of the World crayons will increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance,” says Rich Wuerthele, the new CEO of Crayola who was hired on in January to lead the company. “We want the new Colors of the World crayons to advance inclusion within creativity and impact how kids express themselves.”


Indeed, Crayola has taken this evolution to address color equality very seriously.  Crayola partnered with Victor Casale. Victory was the former chief chemist and managing director of Research & Development (R&D) for MAC cosmetics, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Cover FX, and currently CEO of MOB Beauty.  He has over 30 years of experience creating make-up foundation colors for global skin tones.



“Growing up, I remember mixing the pink and dark brown crayons to try and make my shade, so I was thrilled when Crayola asked for my help to create the Colors of the World Crayons," said Casale, “Finding someone’s right shade has been a goal of mine for my whole career. Now, people can identify themselves in a box of 24 crayons. This is going to change things.”

This isn't the first time someone has influenced changing things at Crayola regarding the perception of skin color and their crayon colors.  I wrote about the history of the color "Flesh" and how back in 1962 June Handler influenced the change in the name of the color after her studies and observations of children's behaviors when coloring people using their crayons.  You can read about it here:  History of Flesh

Of course, the real misunderstanding is that Crayola simply pulled "Flesh" from the art world where it had been used long before wax crayons were available and continues to be used in other industries to this day.  Why?  Because it is a viable color.  Flesh represents not skin pigment (melanin) but that part in which the melanin is absent.  Look at the palms of anyone on the planet...that is the legitimate flesh color.  Look at a person with vitiligo (a condition that causes patches of skin to lose their melanin) and that is the color Flesh.  But as with so many things, the general public confuses that legitimate definition with skin tone and it became an "issue" around differences between humans of various origins because there weren't enough color options to cover the human range at the time.

Since that time, Crayola has continually evolved and moved forward the effort at equality in colors to use for coloring humans.  


  



Each of these boxes represent a look back at their continued evolution toward equality.  These were only partially successful because they were not specifically designed to represent the spectrum of skin colors.  Instead, they were existing colors bundled together to help achieve that goal.  The results were still limiting.  It looks like Crayola has achieved what June Handler sparked way back in 1962 with their new launch.

The new launch will be in July 2020 (unless COVID-19 changed that goal) and it will be through Walmart exclusively.  Crayola has been nurturing specific crayon partnering with companies such as Walmart and Target for decades now.

And for collectors, this adds another 32 color names and true colors to their color history (which I will document in my ongoing color history elsewhere in my website).  In the meantime, enjoy the latest offering from Crayola.

A Conversation with the Binney Family


One of the pleasures of doing my website and crayon blog are the interesting people I get to interact with online.  I was just recently contacted by Kristin, a great-great granddaughter of none other than Edwin and Alice Binney.  Of course, everyone should know that they were responsible for Crayola.  While Edwin’s father, Joseph Binney was ultimately the original founder of Binney & Smith (now Crayola), it was Edwin and Alice that took it in the direction of crayons and set forth their amazing growth over a century of success.

Now if you’ve seen my name anywhere on the Internet, I’m a stickler for accuracy when it comes to crayon history.  I leave comments and try to set forth rights from wrongs when it comes to mis-information.  But she had contacted me after reading some pieces of Crayola history where in one part I had mistakenly identified Joseph as Edwin’s uncle and not his father.  I was happy to correct that.  I actually knew that but we all make mistakes and certainly my website has its share of typos, incomplete stories, etc.  But I try to be as factual and unbiased as possible.

It was a pleasure to trade emails on crayon history back and forth.  Interestingly, she is an artist by profession.  What was especially joyful in our email exchanges is that she shared a number of amazing photos that I have never seen before.  Ultimately they will probably end up in the Smithsonian where there is a large volume of records from Crayola.  I know; I spent three solid days just researching that information years ago in order to put the pieces of crayon history together.  It's the right place for them so that others can learn from their heritage as well.


Perhaps the biggest jaw dropping photo was of Alice Binney with her daughters, Dolly and Helen standing by the 1904 St. Louis Exposition display.  This is so significant for crayon history because it was there that they won their gold medal for their anti-dust chalk and then later used that as one of their identifying items on their crayon boxes for the next 50 years!  And Alice was the one that came up with the Crayola name in the first place!  Wow…so impressed that this exists.  I mean, it was 1904 so it’s not like they have a selfie-stick and a mobile phone for photos.  In fact, photos were still uncommon in that era.

But even more astounding is the photo of Joseph Binney.  This is a photo of Joseph Walker Binney from  1854 in his uniform. He was an officer in The Crimean War - Aid De Garrys of Lord Cardigan.





It’s extremely rare to have a photo from the pre-civil war era.  They represent yet another glimpse into our history through the family photos of those who made America what it became.  For that they can be proud of their family heritage.

Another picture of Joseph and Annie Eliza (Conklin) Binney from 1864 was also among the photos.  Taken a bit later, this is also rare as most of the crayon history research I do doesn’t turn up much on the wives of the founders and yet they too are an important part of the history.



And we wouldn't be complete without a photo of Edwin Binney.  I had seen this used before but it is worth sharing again.


She shared several photos of life at the Binney & Smith office.  This would have been the New York office around the 1900-1910 timeframe.  This first is of somebody important to the company sitting at his desk (we are not sure who).


This next one is of employees at the office.  They would have been some of the first employed by the company.  Perhaps with enough research from the Smithsonian, one could identify who some or all of these were.


I love the old typewriting in the shot and the fashion and even small items are all fascinating as they represent a time gone by.  This next one is an expanded photo of the office.


There is a photo of what is believed to be the Binney & Smith chalk mining operation in North Carolina.  The family had a large plantation in North Carolina that they would go to when they weren’t residing in their main home.


It would be interesting to know what became of this and what resides there today.

She also had a picture of Allan F. Kitchel (and his son on the right, Allan F. Kitchel Jr.).  He was the husband of Helen Binney (whom you saw in the first photo when she was young).  He went to work for Edwin and ultimately became the president of Binney & Smith.  He was there for 50 years!  It's a shame we don't see his name associated with Binney & Smith (Crayola) history.  Guess it's time to change that!



I haven’t really written a comprehensive history on Crayola because it has been done pretty well already.  She shared one such article:  https://patch.com/new-york/peekskill/amp/5541821/bp--crayolas-peekskill-history.  I see no reason to simply repeat what has been done very well (and accurately for once!).  But I sure wanted to share this extra special look into the life of the founders who made Crayola what it is.

It was fun sharing email exchanges back and forth with Kristin.  Being the researcher I am, I had a lot of questions.  Of course, some of them might never be answered but this sure gives us a glimpse into those amazing beginning times.  She shared a few more photos of family and their homesteads which I’ve not included here.

No these are not really Crayola crayons!

When a brand gets big enough, you can bet somebody, somewhere will take advantage of that without the authority to do so.

Case in point, Crayola is such a global name in the world of crayons that they are ripe targets for those wanting to capitalize on that for a quick buck.


So I guess it was no surprise when I saw these on a Mexico online sight.  And of course, the collector in me wants a box just for the novelty!  

The Original Mock-Up Prototype Box for the Crayola No 72 line from 1957/58

One of the most interesting Crayola boxes from my collection was this prototype mock-up submitted for the initial box that would become the No 72 line.  


This was in 1957/58 and at a time when the Crayola No 64 was debuting.  That was the largest assortment box ever for Crayola.  This added another 8 crayons on top of that.  There were repeat colors in the box though so it didn't truly add up to 72 distinct colors but still...it would be their largest crayon box to date.

The mock up box is fun.  First of all, it has an actual multipage coloring book attached to the front of it.  The pages are blank on the mock up.  I don't know if they intended anything else because this feature never made it to the initial retail designed box.

Other differences is that the house is on the right.  Also, inside is a styrofoam case that holds each crayon into two rows of 36 crayons.  This appears to be hand made.

Another interesting observation is that this prototype includes the appearance of the rare "Light Blue" color.  This wasn't in the actual retail version.  So, just like the No 64 where that color was only in the earliest version and quickly removed, this prototype probably used what was available at that time even though later that color was removed from Crayola's palette of colors by the time this went to retail.


This is the first retail version of the box.  Notice that the house was moved over to the left side after they removed the coloring book.  Also notice that they added a dog on a leash to fill in the space left behind from the coloring book.  The Chimney got moved to the left side and the picket fence and bush were removed.  The outline of the house went from red to green and white.  They kept the small window but looking in to it you can see that they didn't go with the styrofoam holder for the crayons.  They are merely stacked onto cardboard shelving instead.  Probably a cost saver.  Gone are the entire design piece on the prototype box that was on the left side and they redid the Crayola name piece by removing the whole "Let's Color With" which I thought was unique.


After that version they quickly moved to a version with a much wider house version that showcased a much larger window.  They also revisited adding an activity book but inside of the box, not on the outside.  This version is much easier to obtain than its predecessor while the prototype is a one-of-a-kind.


Eventually they morphed those early designs into the more familiar white box with the children on them.  There were a couple of versions of this and even some foreign variations.  The line continued but morphed into the popular boxes with the plastic crayon holders that collectors like to have (they make good individual crayon color display cases).

It's always exciting as a collector to have obtained a small piece of Crayola history... something you wouldn't think would ever leave the Crayola property and yet did.  I was honored to have owned it.