Do you remember the classic Paint By Number paintings? Introduced in 1950 by Palmer Paint Company of Detroit, Mich., these painting kits gave people the chance to bring out their artistic side. The concept took off, and in 1951, Palmer Paint's Craft Master brand sold more than 12 million kits.
Paint By Number was designed to be simple: Paint the numbered images with the corresponding paint, and you could mimic the Masters, or as the box containing the kit, promised, "Every man a Rembrandt!"
Well, of that, I'm not so sure. I have seen a lot of PBNs over the years, and I've sold a few too, and the quality of them can vary greatly. And speaking personally of own experience painting a Paint By Number, I'm no Rembrandt either, although I do consider myself to be crafty.
I think you had better success with PBNs if you were somewhat artistic, had a steady hand and a fair amount of patience.
I bring all of this up because I found several PBNs at an estate sale on Saturday. I brought a few home although I passed on several some because they were in poor condition from being stored in a hot attic. Also, several of them were unfinished, and I didn't know if there is a market for unfinished PBNs. (Does anyone know?)
One resource that I have consulted every time that I buy a PBN is the Paint By Number Museum. You can search PBNs by keywords and learn a fair amount of information, including the name of the original kit that the painting came from, the series it was in, and, sometimes, the date it was manufactured.
From the museum, I learned more about my new finds.
These two small paintings (they're 6 inches wide and 8 inches high) are from a kit called "Tranquil Gardens," which was sold in 1969. The kit came with a third bigger painting (which I didn't see at the sale) that was about 16 by 20 inches. These are headed to my Etsy shop soon.
"The Exotic Orient," date unknown, but probably from the 1960s-1970s. These are headed to my Etsy shop too.
"Harbor Scenes," manufactured in 1970. This is not on traditional canvas and it part of a series that used glazes so it has a shiny appearance. Also Etsy-bound.
A Craft House Paint By Number portrait of deer in the woods titled "Wooded Sanctuary." It dates to 1990s. It's in my etsy shop.
A pair of horse portraits. These are titled "Horse Portraits" and date to 1976. They're also in my etsy shop.
And finally, two PBNs that I think I'm keeping.
I found these at a yard sale a few years ago, and they're among the best PBNs that I have ever seen. They're in a great shape and were obviously done by someone who was already a "Rembrandt."
The one on the left is "Mill Pond" and the one on the right is "In The Valley," and they weren't originally sold together, but they are both from 1958.
Finally, you can buy new Paint By Number kits from various sources online. The archives of the Palmer Paint Company were donated in 1993 to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, where they are available to both the public and museum staff for research and exhibition purposes.