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  • Writer's picturewilfredadesigns

The History of the Rubber Eraser

Many of my friends and family members know that I have a strange hobby. I collect erasers, and I have been doing so for many years. It’s funny how such a small hobby has turned into a very large collection. I went from one small tin full, that I would dump on the floor and sort, to a dresser, 2 trunks, some boxes and a couple plastic storage containers full. There are so many erasers!

You used to be able to find erasers everywhere. You could walk into almost any store and there were erasers galore. Just walk down the school supply/office supply aisle and they were just waiting for you to pick them up and take them home. Now in the high-tech age that we are living in they are becoming harder and harder to come by. Especially those cool collectible figural erasers.

An eraser is used to remove pencil markings and sometimes ink markings. In the US and Canada, we call it an “eraser”, in the UK it is referred to as a “rubber”, and in France, it is a “gomme.” They are made in different shapes and sizes and from various materials.

Different cultures used different types of materials to erase writing before the rubber eraser was invented. In Japan they used bread. Yes, bread! Some cultures used rubber, wax and even stones. In 1770, Edward Nairne, an English engineer, started marketing “gum elastic” as an eraser and called it a rubber. The name rubber came from the rubbing motion that occurred while removing the writing.

Since Edward Nairne’s invention smelt bad and crumbled easily it was replaced in 1839 by Charles Goodyear. He was able to cure the rubber which made it more durable and user-friendly. Hymen Lipman then patented the idea of putting the eraser on the end of a pencil for easy use.

The eraser has come quite a long way from those days. You can purchase art erasers, gum erasers, mechanical tube erasers, and the ever so fun novelty erasers.

We have many eraser designs to choose from. Click here to see our large selection.

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