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Working It Out

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Edwin Binney (1866-1934) and C. Harold Smith (1860-1931)

  • Binney took over the operations of the Peeksill Chemical Co., his father's business, in 1885, and he and his father's partner, C. Harold Smith, formed a partnership, Binney & Smith, in New York City, New York.
  • Early products included industrial colorings: red oxide pigment used in barn paint, and carbon for making tires black.
  • In 1900, the company began producing slate school pencils. Binney began experimenting with a combination of old slate waste, cement, and talc, and Binney & Smith created the first dustless white chalk. In 1902, they won a gold medal for the invention at the St. Louis World's Fair.
  • In 1903, the company produced the first box of kid-friendly "Crayola" crayons, which sold for a nickel. Prior to their invention, wax crayons were big, dull-colored, clumsy, and used mainly in industry. The word "Crayola," coined by Binney's wife, means "oily chalk." They were an overnight success.


Compiled from the following sources:
- Oswald, Alison. 2003. BINNEY & SMITH INC. RECORDS, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.