Brownies

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s a gentleman by the name of Palmer Cox created a series of childrens stories and used an old Scottish folklore character called a Brownie.

Palmer's Brownies became all the rage and was one of the first characters to be used on products to help sell them.

Several crayon companies took advantage of the opportunity along with other companies.  Eastman Kodak made a whole camera based on the Brownies.  Their camera was actually called the Brownie and came with a character on the outer packaging. 


In the world of crayons, American Crayon Company and New England Crayon Company were the two manufacturers that used Brownies on their packaging.



American went the furthest with the theme.  In their original 1902 catalog they featured several different crayon assortments that were named after Palmer Cox's characters.  New England Crayon Company didn't quite go that far.  They only featured the Brownies on their Pride line of crayons from 1905.


There is further evidence of the craze too.  Though Franklin Mfg. Co. didn't put the Brownies on any of their crayon boxes at the time, they did promote them by adding something inside the boxes as this article from a trade magazine of the time shows.


There are collectors out there that specialize only in Brownie advertising and Brownie history.  That makes it difficult to obtain any surviving examples of crayon assortments featuring these characters.  In addition to the Pride box, I have been able to obtain several wooden canisters of Brownie crayons.



While this may be all that has survived the Brownie craze back in the day, there have been many examples of Palmer Cox's Brownies influences in modern times.  Having a Brownie desert; the chocolate treat kids (and adults) love comes from the characters.  Sears introduced the recipe in their 1897 catalog; right during the height of the Brownies craze.  The Girl Scout Brownies are named after them.  The baseball team Cleveland Browns were too.  They have been featured in movies like Willow and even the house elves in Harry Potter are a similar character.  Yes, Brownies are some of my treasured crayon containers.

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