Hymen Lipman

There have been many innovations in pencil design or methods of production through the last several hundred years. March 30th, 2008 marked the 150th anniversary of a famous patent which was the first patent to address the installation of a rubber eraser at the end of a wood-cased pencil. The patent filed by Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia, PA was granted on March 30th 1858. An interesting feature of this design was that the eraser was actually installed within the wood of the pencil opposite from the writing core end. In this manner, the pencil could be sharpened on both ends to refresh either the graphite core or eraser.

As it turns out, there were countering claims from another inventor who developed the use of a ferrule to attach an eraser. Faber claimed these were not patentable innovations since pencil and erasers previously existed. The combination did not change the basic function of these two items. The case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Another interesting result of the 2008 anniversary is that several websites did stories on this patent and mistakenly cited the date of March 30th 1858 as the date of the invention of the pencil. Now March 30th has become a sort of unofficial Annual Pencil daymentioned by bloggers around the web. So we’ve also adopting March 30th here on Pencils.com as a day to celebrate pencil innovation and self-expression.