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Thursday, 8 January 2015


It took 200 years after the invention of the lead pencil in 1564 for somebody to dream up the eraser. Until then, draughtsman had to use bread.

In 1770 Edward Nairne, an English engineer, inadvertently picked up a piece of rubber instead of bread and in doing so  discovered rubber's erasing properties. Nairne sold natural rubber erasers for the high price of three shillings per half-inch cube, initially calling them ‘India gum’.

Rubber, like bread, was perishable. In 1839 the tyre tycoon Charles Goodyear pioneered a more durable vulcanised rubber, sealing the future of the eraser.

Philadelphia stationer Hymen Lipman conceived the all-in-one pencil eraser, an innovation that earned him a patent on March 30, 1858. Lipman sold his patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000 four years later.

An interesting feature of Lipman's design was that the eraser was installed within the wood of the pencil, opposite to the writing end. In this manner, the pencil could be sharpened at both ends to refresh its graphite or eraser core.

Source The Independent

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