Twins Francis Edgar and Freelan Oscar Stanley were born to Solomon and Apphia Kezar French Stanley in Kingfield, Maine, on June 1, 1849. The boys epitomized the family’s legacy of inventiveness, crafting their own toys and even making and selling tops and loom spools to friends and neighbors by age eight.


Francis Edgar and Freelan Oscar Stanley

Francis Edgar (left) and Freelan Oscar Stanley. (Stanley Museum Archives)

Intent on becoming teachers, the Stanley twins attended Western State Normal at Farmington beginning in 1869. F.O. graduated in 1871, but F.E. left school following an altercation with a teacher. Both then worked at several rural Maine schools, where they met their wives. F.E. married Augusta May Walker on January 1, 1870, and they had three children: Blanche May, Emma (Emily Frances) and Raymond. F.O. married Flora Jane Record Tileston in 1876; they had no children.

F.E. Stanley and Son, Raymond, at Tim Pond Camps, Eustis, Maine

F.E. Stanley and son, Raymond, at Tim Pond Camps, Eustis, Maine, August 1906. (Stanley Museum Archives)

F.E. and F.O. needed more than teaching to satisfy their creative minds and branched out to pursue several business ventures independently. F.E. left teaching to open a photography studio in 1874 and patented what is now known as the airbrush in 1876. F.O. continued in teaching but left after contracting tuberculosis to follow more active pursuits. Drawing on his teaching experience, he designed and manufactured low-cost drawing instruments for students. By 1882 he was running a factory to produce them en masse.

The Practical Drawing Set

The Practical Drawing Set, manufactured by F.O. Stanley. (Stanley Museum Archives)