Published on April 15th, 2014 | by admin

National Rubber Eraser Day

Today is an opportune moment to celebrate one of those stationery essentials – the rubber or eraser. Rubber Eraser Day, observed worldwide, celebrates the invention of erasers which remain one of the key school essentials featuring in modern day pencil cases.

A rubber eraser used for removing pencil markings is one of those handy products that have done so much for so many of us. Though it is fair to day it is often taken somewhat for granted.

The modern day typical eraser is made from synthetic rubber although more expensive, premium versions comprise of vinyl, plastic or gum-like materials.

Since the first pencil was made by Nicolas Conte way back in 1795, pencil pushers everywhere have been grateful for the invention of the rubber eraser, which was made 25 years prior by British Engineer Edward Nairne.

It was somewhat fortunate that the rubber eraser was ever first discovered when Edward mistook a cube of rubber for the bread to get rid of unwanted pencil markings. This is when he unearthed the new property of rubber.

So how is it that pencil marks magically disappear when a rubber is applied to the paper? The explanation is that the polymers that make up a rubber are stickier than the particles of paper so graphite particles from a pencil end up getting stuck to the eraser instead of the paper. A rubber is therefore almost like a sticky magnet.

Here’s some rubber trivia we hope won’t become easily erased from your mind:

1.       White bread was the original pencil eraser

Before erasers were invented, people used a rolled up piece of white bread to erase graphite. Edward Nairne grabbed some rubber instead of bread by accident to erase something and then realised its ability.

2.       ‘Rubber’ gets its name from erasers

Joseph Priestly, who is credited with first discovering rubber’s erasing properties, initially labeled the erasing ‘substance’ as ‘India gum’ until he remarked about the rubbing action required on the part of the user.

3.       Many erasers contain volcanic ash

Pink erasers in particular make use of pulverized pumice (volcanic ash) to add abrasiveness.

4.       The pencil and rubber combo

Hymen Lipman received the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil in 1858. It was later invalidated because it was deemed simply to be a composite of two devices rather than an entirely new product.

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