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Paint by Numbers History: What You Need to Know

The History of Paint by Numbers

 

These days, finding someone who doesn’t know anything about paint by numbers history would be a pretty hard thing. But, there was a time when nobody knew it existed. Today paint by numbers is a household name, and the mere mention of it brings the fun and creative art form to the forefront of your mind.

Paint by numbers history shows that it was a little harder to get off the ground that you might think. There were years of trials and tribulations that went into it, but not many knew. From the initial idea about marketing, to who invented paint by numbers and where they got the idea.  It’s definitely got an interesting backstory, but don’t take our word.  Keep reading!

To appreciate this art hobby, we need to take a look to see where it began. Although paint by numbers is a household name and something recognized around the world, it wasn’t always that way. But thanks to the tenacity of the man behind it all, it’s become one of our favorite hobbies.

 

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The Marketing and Launch of the Business – History of Paint By Numbers

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As with all good business stories, the beginning of the paint by number kits wasn’t such an easy sell. Dan Robbins made many attempts to market his home painting kits to retailers, called the Craft Master kits. But,  buyers thought that people would find the overall concept too basic or that they simply wouldn’t understand the point.

After years of trying, he was able to sell the idea to S.S Krege, the store that would become K-Mart. They made a huge initial order and filled their store with it, but it wouldn’t last long. An issue with packaging meant that the colors for “The Bullfighter” were mixed with the colors for “The Fisherman.” After countless complaints and refunds, S.S Krege pulled them from the shelves. Determined not to give up, Robbins and Palmer Paint reached out to Macy’s with an offer of an in-store demonstration for customers. It was under the proviso that anything not sold could be returned without charge, and they agreed.  With a cunning plan, they advised their sales representatives to give money to friends and family. They urged them to come and buy a painting kit.

This plan ended up working. From there, the kits were a total sellout and by 1954. Palmer Paints and Dan Robbins had made around $20 million from their success.

Paint By Numbers Today

 

Ledgebay Paint by Number for Adults - Licensed Artwork Paint by Number Kits, Wrinkle-Free Paint by Numbers for Adults Beginner, 16" x 20" Unframed, with Brushes, Acrylic Paints, and Reference Photo
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Today, paint by numbers are sold by hundreds of manufacturers. Although the CraftMaster was first, the originals are rare to find. The brand still makes a couple of their own kits, one in remembrance of the September 11 attacks and another depicting the Last Supper. Both kits being hugely popular. Vintage paint by numbers kits are hugely popular and in high demand for those who want to cherish a piece of history.

Paint by numbers is still experiencing the huge success it once had and now the trend has spread globally. The original founder, Dan Robbins, passed away in April of 2019 at the age of 93. According to his family, he still received many fan letters, even in his later years.

 

One of America’s Most Treasured Pastimes

Ledgebay Paint by Number for Adults - Licensed Artwork Paint by Number Kits, Wrinkle-Free Paint by Numbers for Adults Beginner, 16' x 20' Unframed, with Brushes, Acrylic Paints, and Reference Photo
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Ledgebay Paint by Number for Adults - Licensed Artwork Paint by Number Kits, Wrinkle-Free Paint by Numbers for Adults Beginner, 16" x 20" Unframed, with Brushes, Acrylic Paints, and Reference Photo
  • REAL LICENSED ARTWORK - Our paint by numbers for adults with the Ledgebay kit features designs from authentic licensed artwork. The artist makes...
  • ROLLED PACKAGING - When it comes to protecting your paints, nobody does it better than Ledgebay. Their DIY painting by numbers for adults kit has...
  • VACUUM SEALED - With our painting by numbers pack, you can keep your paint fresh and flexible for a long time. The vacuum-sealed design prevents...

 

The story of paint by numbers, and who started it is a true testament to motivation. And also to not giving up when you have a good idea!  Dan Robbins knew the power that the paint by numbers kits would have on the world. And now millions of people around the world are able to enjoy the pleasure and satisfaction of creating their own art.

The paint by numbers phenomenon has only continued to grow since its initial invention. It’s clear that people have a deep love for art and all of the great things that are possible when you can paint your own. There are so many benefits to this art hobby and learning a bit more about its history makes it more special.  If you want to know how to start and the best tips for beginners we have an excellent article for you – Read Here.

 

Resources

Artist who created first paint by numbers pictures dies

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