Crayola No 55, the forgotten small box from 1903

Back in 1903, at the very beginning of the Crayola crayon and brand, Binney & Smith (now renamed to Crayola) produced a wide variety of crayon products to offer to consumers.

One of those boxes was the Crayola No 55.  I like to think of it as one of the forgotten boxes because it is so rare.  Currently, there is only one known.

What makes the No 55 unusual from it's 1903 counterparts is its size.  The box and the crayons are practically half the size of the normal No 8 box we know of today.

It is also one of their original boxes that did not have wrappers on the crayons.  Therefore, there are no named colors for the assortment.  The box was wide enough to hold two rows of six crayons each.

Still, it contained 12 tiny crayons, each a different color.  These crayons were commonly known to be made specifically for small children.  The thought in that day was that tiny hands needed tiny crayons.  Of course, current thinking is just the opposite.  To build motor skills, small children need easy to navigate blocks of crayon, not tiny easily-breakable ones.

This was the only product Binney & Smith made with crayons of this size and they wouldn't use them again until they came out with their Tiny Tots crayon line in 1930.  Since the Crayola No 55 only made it until 1910, that left a full 20-year gap where they didn't makethis size crayon at all.

Perhaps as penny crayons (which is what Tiny Tots were) continued to stay popular, they resurrected their long forgotten crayons from this and used them again for the Tiny Tots.  The Tiny Tot line lasted until 1934 and this size crayon was never used again.

Though there is only one known surviving box to date and no ads for the box that have been found, we are only left with the famous 1904 Crayola Brochure containing a picture of many of the original boxes from that era as proof that it ever existed.  That is why it is one of the forgotten boxes in Crayola's history.

The Rosen family reunited with the merger of RoseArt and Cra-Z-Art under LaRose Industries LLC

On January 28, 2021, LaRose Industries LLC announced that they had acquired a portion of business from Mattel.  Under the AST (arts, crafts, stationery) business under Mattel included their family business RoseArt.

This effectively brings the family business full circle.  The family originally sold their business in 2005 to Mega Block.  They had a number of different companies under them; having acquired various brands to their mega-corporation.

They continued their business and brand but it didn't take long before one of the Rosen brothers, Lawrence Rosen, left to branch out to his forge his own company, Cra-Z-Art.  He was very successful with the brand and company.  Meanwhile, Mega Blocks got acquired by Mattel in 2014.

With the slowed economy due to Covid, Mattel went shopping for a buyer in 2020 and Lawrence Rosen stepped up and acquired their AST business by January 2021; which wasn't a core business for Mattel.  Now we have not only the full Rosen family back together under the company started by their grandfather in 1923 but we have Lawrence's Cra-Z-Art brand under the same company as well.  The company is now called LaRose Industries LLC.

It's always inspiring to see a family business survive the these corporate acquisition times.

Collecting Vintage Pencil Boxes - the hidden crayon collectible

I try and document all containers containing crayons.  Sometimes those aren't so obvious as just an ordinary box of crayons.  For example, Art Sets frequently had crayon in them.  So did pencil boxes which were also called pencil cases, student cases or school cases among other names.

Collecting vintage pencil cases would make an interesting subset to collect.  There are a lot of them!  I've documented over 300 so far.  They come primary from three different pencil companies:  Eagle Pencil, American Pencil and Joseph Dixon Crucible.  Each of these companies used some of the earliest licensing deals for their products.  Dixon started really early with Disney; right about the time their first full feature animated movie came out in 1937.  As for the others, they looked to radio serials and comic strip characters for their licensed designs.  There were a lot of designs done for Mickey Mouse, Popey, Our Gang, Felix the Cat, The Lone Ranger and many more.  In addition, each of them also had a number of one off designs around a theme.  There were some minor player companies as well.  Eberhard Faber and Hassenfeld Brothers both did a few of these cases.

When collecting these, you'll find that they did each design in a number of colors.  It's very unclear just how many they did for a given design but the most common were blue, green and red color variations although they had five or six other ones that might have been used.

The cases almost always had a button fastener for the top.  They may have contained one to three different storage levels.  Nearly all of them included crayons as each of these companies made both crayon and pencil products.

I have a running compilation of all of them here:

These cases run from the 1920s into the 1950s.  After that they seemed to have switched to regular boxes or flimsier vinyl cases and other ways of packaging school supplies.  I focused just on those vintage ones.

If you decide to take on collecting these, good luck and enjoy.  If you happen to find one I don't have documented, please email me from my main home page.

Craft House did a lot of Hot Wheels crayons

Collectors are very detailed people.  In collecting, the small details do matter.  That's why for Crayola collectors, I've documented close to 3,000 different crayon containers from them so far.

While other companies don't have nearly that size to collect, sometimes there are interesting variations to collect.

Take Craft House for example.  They were the company that made the famous Paint By Number kits.  Eventually they morphed into many art endeavors and some of those included crayons.

They did a fair share of different crayon products over the years but their car-shaped Hot Wheel crayons are of particular interest.

Each package came with four different car-shaped crayons.  They had eight different cars in total.  There were essentially two sets of four different cars.  One set had the Sol-Aire CX4, Shadow Jet, Fangster and Sharkruiser cars.  The other set had the Camaro, Classic Cobra, Corvette and Bywayman cars.  Now, for each car, there were a total of seven different colors that each of those cars could come in:  Black, blue, green, orange, red, purple and yellow.  That means that if you wanted to have every car in every color, you would have to have at least 14 different sets of these.

I have managed to find all the colors for all of the cars except two:  The Sol-Aire CX4 is missing a yellow example and the Fangster is missing a green example.

Here's the final tally of cars and colors:

Sol-Aire CX4:  Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Red, Purple (missing yellow)
Shadow Jet:  Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow
Fangster:  Black, Blue, Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow (missing green)
Sharkruiser:  Black, Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Purple, Yellow
Camaro:  Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow
Classic Cobra:  Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow
Corvette:  Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow
Bywayman:  Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Yellow

But this isn't every container you could get the Hot Wheel crayon cars in.  They also did another one with five of the cars:

Additionally, they even added a random Hot Wheel crayon cars to other figure crayon sets they produced even though the Hot Wheels had no bearing on the set.  I have no idea of the logic to that but here is an example:

Of course, if you are a REAL detailed collector, you could argue that the position of each car is also a variation and because the cars were not put into the sets in any uniform order, that means that the number of unique combinations of cars, colors and positions in the package REALLY LARGE!  I haven't done the math for this because...well...I hate doing math....but it must be a lot.

If you are interested in reading more about Craft House and what crayon products they have done, you can find that in my website here:  Craft House

Gluten Free Crayons?

 Whew...I was worried there for a moment.  But, yes, they are GLUTEN-FREE!  😂

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).