I find it fascinating to read little blurbs written about “what happened on (insert day) back in (insert year).” Today’s blurb in the New York Times caught my eye.
On March 30, 1858, Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia patented the pencil-and-eraser. Although his first name raises some eyebrows, Hymen created some controversy for other reasons.
Evidently, there was some debate back then about this being a true invention. Hymen’s invention was all about putting an eraser on top of the pencil. He was en-route to make a lot of money, but the Supreme Court declared the patent invalid 17 years later. The reason: the pencil and eraser had already been around–and it wasn’t considered an “invention” to marry the two together.
Another pencil-related and interesting tidbit: before erasers were used, starting in 1770, soft bread was the way to rid papers of those silly mistakes. Soft bread! I wonder today if the bread would erase better if it’s gluten-free.
I’m still a big fan of the pencil. There is nothing quite like the smell and feel of a freshly sharpened pencil. Thanks, Hymen. I count it as a cool invention in my book.