Following the Civil War, three entrepreneurial families took their innovative ideas for school chalk from the kitchen stove and transformed them into the American Crayon Company in Sandusky, Ohio. Color Capital of the World tells this story through the eyes of one of the founding family’s descendants, tracing the cycle of build, boom, and bust. Readers will come away feeling a greater appreciation of the human story behind the crayon and the Ohio town that produced more crayons and paints than anywhere in the world.
About the Author
John Kropf is the author of Unknown Sands: Journeys Around the World’s Most Isolated Country, which Publisher’s Weekly praised as a fascinating narrative bound to hook adventurers. His writing has appeared in appeared The Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Kropf was born in Sandusky and raised in Erie County, Ohio. He is an attorney in the Washington, DC, area.
Advance Praise for Color Capital of the World
A book as vibrant as its subject. There’s more here than the compelling history of the American Crayon Company and the brightly-hued world it helped bring forth. Kropf’s moving account of his family’s journey and of his own coming of age in Sandusky is also an exploration of the American dream, the meaning of success, the importance of industry in sustaining a community, and, yes, the disastrous consequences when that industry disappears.
—Bruce Falconer, Senior Editor, The American Scholar
“This book colored my world with history and hope. Kropf does a deep dive into the development of crayons, their economic impact on the community of Sandusky, Ohio, and the science of how color determines and defines us. Color Capital of the World is a multi-generational story of American business and ingenuity told through the author’s ambitious research and personal genealogy. A delightful and engaging read!”
–Melissa Scholes Young, author of The Hive and Flood
John Kropf deftly synthesizes regional, industrial, and family history in this book, which chronicles the history of the American Crayon Company in Sandusky, Ohio and his family’s role in creating and growing this remarkable firm that became one of the most successful suppliers of crayons and other art supplies to schools and businesses throughout the world. Through the precise use of portraiture, broader Sandusky history, and his own vivid recollections, Kropf tells the story of what American Crayon meant to his town and his family—and all the costs that result when something great fades away. Memory, meditation, and exposition blend seamlessly in this unusual and valuable work of history.
–Patrick Kerin, writer