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Crayola Crayons, 1903

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History0073.41.

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.

For education resources and information, lesson plans, field trips and fun interactive activities for educators, families and students, visit the Smithsonian Education website.

This object is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is currently not on display in the National Museum of American History. To learn more about this item, visit the National Museum of American History website.