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The Eraser Was Discovered In 1770. A Pencil With An Eraser Was Invented In 1858

Correcting mistakes since 1770, National Rubber Eraser Day on April 15th commemorates the date the invention first began making written errors disappear.

Tablets of rubber (or wax) were used to erase lead or charcoal marks from paper before there were rubber erasers.

Another option for the eraser was crustless bread. A Tokyo student said, “Bread erasers were used in place of rubber erasers, and so they would give them to us with no restriction on amount. So we thought nothing of taking these and eating a firm part to at least slightly satisfy our hunger.”

If pencils are one of the greatest inventions ever, erasers come in as a close second. Mistakes happen, after all. And the ability to make them go away, to start fresh, and express yourself in a whole new way never gets old!

So wipe out everything you thought you might know about erasers, and read on. Fun facts are followed by a quick tour of how erasers are really made.

  • Pre 1770 – Crustless bread is used to erase charcoal markings.
  • 1770 – On April 15, 1770, Joseph Priestly founded a vegetable gum to remove pencil marks.  He dubbed the substance “rubber.”
  • 1770 – Edward Nairne developed the first marketed rubber eraser.  Nairne claimed to have come upon his invention accidentally: He inadvertently picked up a piece of rubber instead of breadcrumbs, he said, thereby realizing rubber’s erasing properties.
  • 1774 – Priestly is the same guy who discovered oxygen in 1774.
  • 1839 – Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization (a method that would cure rubber and make it a durable material)  This method made rubber erasers standard.
  • 1858 – Hyman Lipman (Philadelphia, Pa.) patented the pencil with an eraser at the end.
  • 1932 – The electric eraser was invented in 1932 by Arthur Dremel of Racine, Wisconsin, USA.  Dremel went on to develop an entire line of hand-held rotary power tools.
  • Pencil manufacturers make erasers, too, which makes sense since we tend to think that it’s a done deal – an eraser is a regular component of the everyday pencil. But that’s not always been the case….
  • An eraser by any other name? Originally, what we now call an eraser was referred to as a “rubber” because the tree resin it was made of “rubbed out” pencil marks. In Great Britain, they still use the original term.
  • An eraser isn’t called eraser by eraser manufacturers, either. Their name for the little erasers on pencil ends: “plugs!”
  • More and more of today’s erasers are made from something other than rubber! While some of the “pink” erasers you find on pencils are made from synthetic rubber blended with pumice (a grit that enhances its ability to erase), an increasing number of erasers are made from vinyl. Vinyl is a type of durable, flexible plastic.
  • Even to this day, most pencils sold in Europe are eraser-less!
  • In the United Kingdom, erasers are still known as rubbers.
  • An Indian rubber eraser has two parts — red for black or colored pencil markings and blue for erasing ink.
  • With erasers, you should be able to take the graphite off in 2 strokes
  • Erasers were once called lead eaters.
  • Erasers are used for EVERYTHING:


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