A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Crayola Crayons

August 20, 2012

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Crayola Crayons, 1903
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Crayola Crayons, 1903

This Smithsonian Snapshot celebrates the back-to-school season with this original pack of Crayola Crayons.

Cherished by generations of children, Crayola Crayons were invented in 1903 by cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith, founders of the Binney & Smith Co. of Easton, Pa.

The company used paraffin wax and nontoxic pigments to produce a coloring stick that was safe, sturdy and affordable. The name "Crayola” was coined by Alice Binney, Binney’s wife and a former school teacher. It comes from "craie," French for "chalk," and "oleaginous" or "oily." This Crayola set for "young artists" was one of the earliest produced. Its 28 colors include celestial blue, golden ochre, rose pink and burnt sienna.

To learn more about this item, visit the National Museum of American History website.