Who Invented Crayons?

Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith invented non-toxic wax crayons for children and their invention went to the markets in 1903. Crayons had existed even earlier and they fell into two categories: (1) crayons from the earth and (2) crayons from wax. Although the crayons made from wax were superior to the chalk-like crayons, they were too poisonous to be used by the children. The invention of Edwin and H. Smith was called Crayola crayons and it has evolved into a major company which manufactures more than 150 kinds of crayons.


The world ‘crayon’ comes from the French word ‘craire’ (chalk) and this kind of crayons have been in use since antiquity. The Egyptians were the first to add wax to the colored pigments – producing wax crayons. The indigenous people in the Philippines also developed a similar technique around 16th century. These early crayons were not meant for the aimed at improving the creativity of children by giving them a means to color on paper. A number of attempts were made in Europe in the following centuries: Joseph Lemercier, a Frenchman who is also considered one of the founders of modern crayons, considered using ‘wax’ instead of ‘oil’ to make crayons. But it the Crayola brand crayons that were the first crayons exclusively made for children. The name Crayola comes from two French words craie (chalk) and from oleaginous (oily). Although the company had existed since 1885, it was the ‘crayola crayons’ which made it hugely popular. Now the company employs more than a thousand employees and its main business centers are the North American continent and Western Europe.

Category: Inventions

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