The Egyptians and Greeks over 3000 years ago combined beeswax and colored powders (called pigments) to decorate their ships and tombs.
Crayons for drawing and writing were made in the 1800's in Europe.
By 1880 wax crayons were made in the United States. One of the first companies to make colored crayons was E. Steiger & Co. from New York. They offered 18 different colors!
The Franklin Manufacturing Company made lumber and shipping crayons in 1876 (these were black colored crayons used to write on wood). They expanded into making colored crayons in the 1880's.
Louis Prang also developed a line of watercolor crayons in the 1880's. Mr. Prang was a great believer in Art Education so he also created many art materials for classes. Prang crayons are still available now via prang.com.
Milton Bradley, a maker of games, also made crayons in the 1890's and sold them through their company located in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith were cousins and developed a marking crayon in 1902 which led to the first Crayola crayon in 1903. They had three colors, black, red and yellow - but none of these were safe for children.
Because they had a chemistry background they were able to develop a wax based crayon at a low cost with many different colors. The first boxes of crayons sold for 5 cents!
The name Crayola was suggested by Alice Binney, Edwin Binney's wife, combining craie, French for "chalk," referring to pastels that preceded and lent their name to the first drawing crayons, and adding -ola, meaning "oleaginous," referring to the wax from which the crayons were made.
In 1904 Binney and Smith entered their crayons in the World's Fair held in St. Louis, Missouri. They won a Gold Medal which they used on their boxes of crayons.
The Binney and Smith Crayon business was off and running. They changed their name to Crayola in 2007.
Crayola produces almost 3 billion crayons each year, or about twelve million daily. That's enough to circle the globe 6 times!