The Burden of Proof

I get a lot of crayon related correspondence.  Most of it has to do with dating and valuing crayon items people have found.  They have no other resource to turn to on the internet because I'm the only one that has done any research at all.

The other day I got a request by a magazine to substantiate my claim that Crayola debuted the color BITTERSWEET in 1958.  Apparently both their website and Wikipedia say it debuted in 1949.

That makes sense to me now.  Bittersweet showed up in 1958 during the debut of the No 64 box which was their largest assortment of colors ever.  In preparing for that, they revamped their color inventory.  They had a bunch of colors they'd bought from Munsell many years earlier and were phasing out both the Munsell reference and the more functional color names that were used on those colors.  In doing so, they renamed and introduced a lot of colors.

Once they did so, they also revamped their other assortment boxes, which included the No 48 box which was the largest color assortment size from WWII to 1958.  I would guess that Crayola dated their color by seeing it in their No 48 box and knowing that they debuted the No 48 box in 1949.  Simple.  But very little with Crayola's color and box history is simple.  In reality, the colors were different in the No 48 prior to 1958.

Here's a photo of the original:

Of course, the magazine had a lot of questions...

How do know it debuted in 1958?  Because I have all of their No 48 boxes and all of their No 64 boxes and I've inventoried and cross-checked with other collectors.  I also confirmed these against the price lists from various years.

But how do you know the colors are the right colors for that box?  Because mine are unopened and unused.

If they are unopened, how do you know what colors are in them?  Because you can still open the flap at the top to get to them but everyone opens the boxes by unsealing the flip back lid.

How do you know they have the right crayons?  Perhaps they put in the wrong colors instead?  There weren't any other colors to add to the box at the time.  If they had left out BITTERSWEET they would have had to put in a different color and they didn't have a different color to use.

What about colors from later years that got mixed in there?  The color names are printed on a wrapper.  The wrappers prior to 1955 are very distinctive and have their color names inside of the Crayola oval design whereas the wrappers from 1958 and beyond have the color names printed outside that oval design.  You can clearly see from the photo above the earlier design.  Here is the No 64 colors:

Notice the difference?

Of course, that still doesn't offer "proof".  What if they debuted the color and then dropped it and re-introduced it later in 1958?  Eventually, I went to my archive of price lists and while I didn't have anything useful from 1949, the price list in 1953 contained all of the colors for their boxes and what they offered in bulk.  BITTERSWEET was nowhere to be found on these.  In the 1954 price list, they listed every color in the No 48 box.  Guess what?  It wasn't there either and that was their full color line.

That should be the proof.  I finally left them to contact Crayola.  Why don't you ask Crayola to offer up proof that it did exist prior to 1958, I told them.  Prove me wrong!  

Oh, and as for Wikipedia...they just blindly site the inaccurate Crayola web site reference.  I've long given up revamping the Crayola color list over there because they deal in referenced information, not original research and since I'm the only research around, I'd just be referencing my own stuff.  I did that for the "Crayon" portion of Wikipedia and once had somebody tell me I'd plagiarized from my own website.  Of course, I wrote both!


  1. Here's someone who agrees with you

    By the way, did you ever collect any of the Crayola tins? I have a complete series in my collection, and another set resides in my folks home. Although mom doesn't remember why she bought them, most are unused and likely to remain such until I inherit her collection.

  2. More proof
    This site includes clear pictures of all sides of the 1991 Crayola Collector's Tin. It seems Crayola's website and a product made for and distributed by them would be in disagreement. I have my tin in storage or I would have provided pictures of it instead.

  3. Refiner - I never collected the Crayola tins although I did have a number of them (that happens when you collect, you just seem to acquire things in large purchases). I like the idea but I'm a collecting purist, I like the older items that weren't designed as a collectible. Oh, and thanks for the link...

  4. What is the estimated value of an Original 1991 Crayola crayon set. Came with 72 Crayons. Crayons never used or been out of their boxes. Tin only been opened a handful of times

  5. Please tell me what color wrapper the "copper" and "gold" crayons in the 1991 Collector tin should have. Both wrappers that say copper and gold are almost white, like the silver wrapper, but they both contain a crayon that is like blue green. Obviously these are mistakes made in packaging? Someone please tell me the color of the gold and copper wrappers.