Ruben's Crayola Artists' and Drawing Crayons

I love it when I have new box of old crayons and I get to learn about the history of the box. I had no idea who Rubens was. He is the man on the box of Rubens crayons shown below and on the actual crayon wrapper. Who was he? He was Peter Paul Rubens, a famous Baroque Flemish artist (1577-1640. His artwork is revered and sells for millions. Why would Crayola or Binney & Smith Co. as it was named then use his picture? They wanted to show that their box of crayons was high quality and could be used by artists. Hence the ever present picture of Ruben everywhere. It is his self portrait which is currently part of the British Royal Collection. In examining the box it also emphasizes the colors are bright and permanent. On the 1906 box the front says "ARTISTS' CRAYON The Colors in these Crayons are equal to those used in the best Artists' Tube Colors and Pastels."

These boxes were given to me by John Corb. I am so GRATEFUL!!! I am also grateful for Ed Welter for gathering info on the Rubens 24 Count boxes too!
1906 and 1918 24 Count Rubens Crayons


There are a number of claims in there that I think would make a great YouTube video. Are they equal? Can they be varnished? Can they used used for outdoor sketching? I did not know outdoor sketching was a thing back in the 1900's. I am definitely going to do a video and at least try out one crayon to see if the claims are true. Here is a video with all the swatches. They were pretty good.

The Ruben crayon line came in packs of 6, 12, 18, and 24. They have been around since the beginning of the company in 1903 Here is the information on the colors in the 24 box.
Color Information 
Boxes: Crayola
What's inside the box: 
1906: Black, BURNT SIENNA, Burnt Umber, CHR. GREEN L, COBALT BLUE, Dark Green, Eng. Vermilion, Flesh Tint, Gold Ochre, Ind. Red, MADDER LAKE, Magenta, MED. GREEN, Med. Yellow, Olive Green, ORANGE, PRUSSIAN BLUE, Raw Umber, ROSE PINK, ULT. BLUE, Ven. Red, VIOLET, White, YELLOW
1918: Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Chr. Green, L., Dark Green, Eng. Vermillion, Flesh Tint, Gold Ochre, Ind. Red, Madder Lake, Magenta, Med. Green, Olive Green, Orange, Raw Umber, Rose Pink, Violet, White
Purchase Information: from fellow collector
Where to buy: eBay

Here are all the crayons with the names and swatches. I think they came out beautifully!
It is interesting to note that in 1906 some crayon names were capitalized and others were not.

1906 Rubens Crayola Crayons

1918 Rubens Crayola Crayons

Collecting Information
These are highly collectible boxes because they are hard to find. They are the second and third iteration of the Rubens 24 Count box. There are a number of differences even between these two boxes that I have. The border is different, the text on the box is different. Rubens is in quotes on the 1906 box. Rubens is looking right in one box and left in the other. The frame around Ruben is different. Trade Mark is on Rubens self portrait in the 1906 box and outside the portrait on the 1918 box. ARTISTS' CRAYON was changed to DRAWING CRAYON. Paris is listed as a location on the 1906 box and not on the 1918 box. Were they trying to market to Europe earlier or did they put it on there to make the crayon seem more prestigious? Also the description of the crayons as mentioned above was taken off for the 1918 box.

The only text differences on the back is "Clean, Compact and Convenient" was removed and quotes on "Rubens".

"Made In the U.S.A." was added to the bottom of the 1918 box.

The wrappers are also different. The etching of Ruben on the 1918 crayon is improved. The 1906 crayon is called an Artists' Crayon and the 1918 crayon is called a Drawing Crayon. The 1906 crayon mentions Paris while the 1918 one does not. The borders are also slightly different. Also TRADE MARK is added to the 1918 crayon.

Boxes: 1906 and 1918 Rubens Crayola Crayons
Other Boxes: There were about 5 other box designs then the Rubens 24 Crayola Crayons was changed to Crayola Drawing Crayon. It still had a picture of Rubens on the front and Ruben in the border surrounding the portrait, but they were not called Rubens crayons.
Year: 1906 and 1918
Style Numbers: None
Code Numbers: None
UPC Numbers: None
Manufacturing Location: 1918 box was manufactured in the USA, there is no information on the 1906 box.
Where to buy: ebay

1906 Rubens Crayola Crayons
  1918 Rubens Crayola Crayons  

1906 VS 1918 Crayon Wrappers


  1. Maybe by the time the second box was made, there was a specific box for the French market. Or maybe not. Within my lifetime, Crayola=kids, it looks not to be the case at that point. But when your only hope of a color picture is one that you made yourself, and I don't mean with a camera, any art materials potentially had serious adult use. I still think crayons are a great tool, it's kind of too bad that 110 years slowly moved the marketing from Rubens to "Tip." It's the artist that makes the medium, not vice-versa.

    Your collection is off the chain. I'm glad you mentioned your website in one of your videos, or I wouldn't have found it. Thanks for documenting and sharing your collection and research as well as you do, it's fascinating history.

  2. In 1958, Cobalt Blue was renamed Sky Blue, Rose Pink was renamed Carnation Pink, Gold Ochre was renamed Goldenrod, Ultramarine Blue was renamed Periwinkle, Madder Lake was renamed Carmine, English Vermillion was renamed Orange Red, Medium Yellow was renamed Maize, Light Chrome Green was renamed Spring Green, Dark Green was renamed Pine Green, Burnt Umber was renamed Burnt Orange and Prussian Blue was renamed Midnight Blue.