2021 A to Z: Letter R…Weird Holidays

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2021 A to Z: Letter R

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Rubber Eraser Day (April 15)

 On April 15, 1770, English chemist Joseph Priestley (who discovered oxygen) once noted that graphite marks could be “rubbed out” by a piece of rubber. From this discovery, rubber derived its name. You see, the rubber eraser was more of a discovery, like many things, and less of an invention!

 All types of rubber got their name from the physical action one used to erase pencil on paper. What do you do to erase marks? You rub! In fact, prior to the use of rubber as a means of erasing, any material that was used to remove marks was casually called a “rubber”.

Inventor Charles Goodyear patented a vulcanization process in 1844 that made rubber more durable, so it wouldn’t rot.

March 30, 2008 was the 150th Anniversary of the Hymen Lipman patent on the combination of lead-pencil and eraser. 88 years after the invention of rubber eraser, Hymen Lipman made a breakthrough invention using the rubber eraser. He later lost the licence since he did not invent a new product but simply attached one product to another. But still, his pencils with rubbers are widely known to this day.

JetPens.com explains the considerations when you buy an eraser. They are :


Look for erasers that remove graphite cleanly.


Differently-shaped erasers can be more or less precise.

Paper Trauma

Use soft erasers to avoid paper damage.


Erasers whose debris sticks together are easier to clean up after.

Johnny Gamber, co-hosts the Erasable podcast with Andy Welfle*. Gamber keeps a blog called Pencil Revolution (and who likes either the Faber-Castell white plastic eraser or the Staedtler Mars white plastic eraser), pointed out that, “erasers age, pencils don’t. You can use a hundred-year-old pencil and sharpen it and it will work just fine. You can’t really stock up on erasers because they dry out.” 

[*Ed Note: Andy Welfle has a blog called Woodclinched, for the love of wooden pencils, and has lately been partial to a Czechoslovakian eraser.

Featured image: “R is for Ramsay (Gordon)” from Digital Synopsis, created by UK based graphic designers Liam + Jord


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