BINNEY & SMITH INC. RECORDS, 1897-1998
(24 cubic feet: 42 DB; 8 ShB; 14 F/O; 1 O/S Fldr)
by Alison L. Oswald, May 1998; revised 2000, 2003, 2011
In 1864, Joseph W. Binney (1836-1898), began a small chemical works in
Peekskill, New York. He ground and packaged hardwood charcoal and manufactured
small quantities of lamp black from whale oil. In 1880, he opened a New York
City office taking on his nephew, C. Harold Smith (1860-1931) as a salesman.
Later, Joseph Binney's son, Edwin Binney (1866-1934), joined the business. The
organization was known as the Peekskill Chemical Co. Joseph W. Binney retired
and in May 1885, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith formed a partnership, Binney
& Smith. Their early products included red oxide pigment used in barn paint
and carbon for black tires. In 1900, the company began producing slate school
pencils in its Easton, Pennsylvania mill. With the assistance of John Ketchum,
the owner of a talc mine in North Carolina, Binney began combining old slate
waste with cement and the talc supplied by Ketchum to produce slate pencils. Two
years later, Binney & Smith introduced their white dustless blackboard
chalk, "Au-Du-Septic" and in 1903, the company produced a box
of eight crayons, which sold for a nickel. The word "Crayola" coined
by Edwin Binney's wife, Alice, comes from "craie" the French word for
chalk, and "ola," from oleaginous, meaning oily or pertaining to oil.
Binney & Smith's best known product is CrayolaÒ
crayons. However, its product line now includes: tempera, washable, and fabric
paints, LiquitexÒ acrylic paints, Magic MarkerÒ,
chalk, clay, and JazzyÔ fashion and craft
accessories. Binney & Smith acquired Silly PuttyÒ
in 1977 and in 1984, became a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc. Products are
still manufactured in Easton, Pennsylvania (world headquarters), as well as
Mexico, and Indonesia and are available in twelve languages. In 2007, the company changed its name to Crayola LLC.
Scope & Content
The Binney & Smith Inc. Records, document twentieth century advertising,
commercial packaging, commercial imagery, and retail merchandising. They are a
major source for research on American consumer culture. This collection is
divided into thirteen (13) series: Series 1: Historical Background, 1956-1990s;
Series 2: Executive Records, 1897-1995; Series 3: Financial, Sales and Marketing
Records, 1902-1990; Series 4: Employee and Personnel Records, 1917-1993; Series
5: Newsletters and Publications, 1948-1995; Series 6: Research and Development
Records, 1905-1987; Series 7: Advertising and Promotional Records, 1918-1998;
Series 8: Catalogs, 1916-1995; Series 9: Price Lists, 1916-1995; Series 10:
Product Information, 1918-1995; Series 11: Competitors, 1918-1992; Series 12:
Photographs and Scrapbooks, c. 1900s-1997; and Series 13: Audio-Visual
Materials, c. 1980-1998.
Series 1: Historical Background, 1956-1994, contains documentation on
the corporate history of Binney & Smith, and general background on how
crayons are made. The Story of the Rainbow, (editions 1947, 1956, and
1961), provide corporate historical highlights and a history of the company. See
also Series 5: Newsletters and Publications, 1948-1995 for information about the
Series 2: Executive Records, 1897-1995, consists of annual and
corporate reports, by-laws, minutes, correspondence, annual reports, stockholder
materials and the attempted merger of Binney & Smith by Cheeseborough-Ponds
in the early 1970s and the Kellogg Co., ca. 1979.
Series 3: Financial, Sales, and Marketing
Records, 1902-1990, consists primarily of sales information
and statistics for crayons and other products. The correspondence, 1913-1931,
includes documentation on monthly sales with explanations and analysis.
Binney & Smith created comparative data on a yearly basis for products
and salesmen. The salesmen data, 1919-1932,
contains the amount of sales, expenses, percentages, time periods, and
increases and decreases in business. Specific salesmen are cited in
reports. All of the sales information should be consulted as there is
Series 4: Employee/Personnel Records, 1917-1993, contains payroll rate
books, employee reports and miscellaneous documentation. The payroll rate books
include the names of employees and the rate at which they were paid per hour. In
some instances it is noted if the employee left the company.
Series 5: Newsletters and Publications, 1948-1995, include newsletters
and other publications produced by Binney & Smith, Inc. Arranged
alphabetically, this series contains publications intended for both internal
distribution such as the Rainbow Insider and external distribution such
as the Art Educationist and Drawing Teacher. This series
provides valuable information on the history of the company, how it operates,
the types of products produced, and the employees. The Art Educationist,
formerly known as the Drawing Teacher, which began publication in 1926,
was a publication for art teachers that promoted the value of art in schools. It
contains editorials, comments from teachers, and suggested art activities.
Series 6: Research and Development Records, 1905-1987, includes a wide
variety of materials documenting the Research and Development Department. The
bulk of the materials include crayon formulas. Other formulas for products such
as chalk exist.
Series 7: Advertising and Marketing Records, 1918-1998, contains
several subseries with the bulk of the material being documentation on labeling
and packaging. The advertising accounts are arranged chronologically and then
within each year, alphabetically by the name of the journal or magazine in which
Binney & Smith advertised. The cards provide the name, address, date of
contract, date of expiration, space allotted, rate, subject of the ad, and
remarks if applicable. Information on distribution and "specials" is
available for some years. The promotional materials consist of licensing
information, press kits, and printed literature, particularly Promotional Plans
which describe the details of each promotion offered for each product along with
suggestions for merchandising activities.
Series 8: Catalogs, 1916-1995, and Series 9: Price Lists, 1916-1995,
are arranged alphabetically by division within Binney & Smith, Inc. Both
series provide documentation on the types of products available to the consumer
and costs associated with each product.
Series 10: Product Information, 1918-1995,consists of printed
literature on a variety of products produced by Binney & Smith, Inc. The
series is arranged alphabetically. The product inventories, 1920-1925, are
arranged by product number in sequential order. There are three distinct
inventories--those arranged by product number (#1-#7026); those arranged
alpha-numerically (#04-#04Y); and those arranged alphabetically.
Series 11: Competitors, 1918-1992, contains published catalogs and
advertising of crayon competitors. There is a scrapbook of competitors
advertising contains correspondence, product information, advertisements, and
newspaper clippings for the American Crayon Co., Art Crayon Co., Botts Mfg.,
Eberhard Faber Co., Ferst Brothers, Joseph Dixon Crucible Co., Milton-Bradley
Co., and National Crayon Co.
Series 12: Photographs and Scrapbooks, c. 1900s-1997, includes several
subseries documenting buildings and office spaces, displays,
machinery, products, portraits, photo albums, and oversized. The oversized
photographs contain some panoramic shots of Binney & Smith company
"annual outings." The photograph albums consist of several albums
including the Middletown Township Workshop, 1952, an art workshop sponsored by
Binney & Smith, Inc. Three albums contain photographs of various
construction and expansion projects from the 1960s to 1975. Of note is the photo
album containing photographs and newspaper clippings from the 1959 California
Pacific Crayon Company fire. Also, there are Binney & Smith company albums,
1949-1976, that document a variety of activities within the company. Each album
was photographed by W. H. Milliken, Jr., and specified the location, date, and
number of photographs in the album. The albums cover topics such as art shows,
trade shows, suppers, dinner parties, office shots, employee anniversaries, and
retirement parties. The scrapbooks span the years 1962-1975, and contain both
newspaper clippings and some black and white photographs documenting various
company activities and its employees.
Series 13: Audio-Visual Materials, c. 1980s-1998,
contain two 1/2"
VHS tapes documenting the 40th anniversary of the Crayola 64 box and Silly PuttyÒ.
Artifacts were donated to the National Museum of American History, Division
of Cultural History on November 18, 1997 and March 15, 1998. The artifacts
consist of more than 150 objects, including 79 boxes of CrayolaÒ
crayons from the 1900s to 1998; 24 boxes of chalk from the 1890s to 1998, 18 art
kits; 10 sets of EDU-CARDS from the 1960s and 1970s; and 10 packages of Silly
PuttyÒ from the 1950s to the 1990s.
This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History,
Archives Center on November 18, 1997, by Binney & Smith through Patrick Morris. Additional
materials were donated in March 1998, by Binney & Smith through Tracey Muldoon Moran and in
February 2000 through Stacy Gabrielle.
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