When Were Wax Crayons Invented?
The word “crayon” dates to 1644, coming from (chalk) and the Latin word creta (earth). Contemporary crayons are purported to have originated in Europe where some of the first cylinder shaped crayons were made with charcoal and oil.
Pastels are an art medium having roots with the modern crayon and stem back to Leonardo da Vinci in 1495. Conté crayons, out of Paris, are a hybrid between a pastel and a conventional crayon; used since the late 1790s as a drawing crayon for artists.
Later, various hues of powdered pigment eventually replaced the primary charcoal ingredient found in most early 19th century product. References to crayons in literature appear as early as 1813 in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Joseph Lemercier (born Paris 1803—died 1884), considered by some of his contemporaries to be “the soul of lithography”, was also one of the founders of the modern crayon.
Through his Paris business circa 1828 he produced a variety of crayon and color related products. But even as those in Europe were discovering that substituting wax for the oil strengthened the crayon, various efforts in the United States were also developing.
Wax crayons in the United States were invented less than a century ago. The first ones weren’t used by children to color pictures. They came only in black, and were used by storekeepers to mark prices on store goods.
At the urging of teachers, a company named Binney & Smith experimented with colored wax crayons and produced the first ones in 1903. These crayons, named “Crayola,” came in 16 different colors.
Today, the Crayola plant in Easton, Pennsylvania-the largest crayon factory in the world -produces millions of Crayola crayons a day in an assortment of more than 72 colors.