Group of 3 Crayon Holders

An octagonal brass tube with a round handle has a slide that extends its length to 8-5/8". The handle unscrews and can be removed to function as 4-3/8" brass and steel dividers. The other end has an unnumbered one-inch scale divided to twelfths.
The other two tubes are made of steel and have rings or sleeves that slide up and down to move the crayon and allow the user to grasp the crayon. The 6-1/4" crayon holder is not marked. The 5-1/16" crayon holder has a four-inch scale divided to 1/4" and numbered by ones from 1 to 4. Its top is engraved with a drawing of a bearded man.
The dates of objects purchased with these writing instruments suggest they were made in the 18th century. Holders for wax crayons, chalk, or charcoal sticks were known in Europe by the 17th century and widespread by the 18th century. They were employed by artists and draftsmen.
References: Maya Hambly, Drawing Instruments, 1580–1980 (London: Sotheby's Publications, 1988), 65–66; Jacob Simon, "The Artist's Porte-Crayon," National Portrait Gallery, London,
Currently not on view
date made
18th century
place made
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 17.5 cm x 1.1 cm x 1.1 cm; 6 7/8 in x 7/16 in x 7/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Drawing Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Pens and Pencils
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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