September 14, 2007 11:32 am

pencilsIt’s that time of the year when kids sulk and parents rejoice – it’s back to school time!  It’s been a little while since Invention Girl went back to school shopping (and don’t ask how long!), but I fondly remember picking out great new school clothes and, of course, the latest school supplies. In honor of back-to-school excitement, Invention Girl and InventHelp present the stories of crayons and erasers, both must-haves for a new school year.


For youngsters in particular, a vast selection of crayons ensures that any school artwork is worthy of prime refrigerator space. The first box of crayons made its debut in 1903 and sold for 5 cents. Invented by cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith, crayons originally were produced in only eight colors: black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow and green.

Today there are hundreds of crayon colors, as well as crayons that glow in the dark, sparkle with glitter, and even change colors. The creative possibilities are endless!


Before rubber became popular in Europe, the first erasers were actually edible! People used pieces of bread to remove pencil marks because a better option was not available.

For many years, rubber and pencils remained separate, until a Philadelphia inventor came up with a new idea. Hyman Lipman patented a pencil with a groove in the tip, into which an eraser was glued. Companies started to manufacture the pencil/eraser combo, and Supreme Court battle ensued over the intellectual property rights of the concept. The Court ruled that the pencil/eraser combination could not be patented, because the combo did not change the functionality of either item. The decision opened the way for many companies to start producing pencils with erasers. Now, a #2 pencil sits in the desks of school children everywhere, just waiting to be used on a standardized test!

Invention Girl and InventHelp wish all the students returning to the classrooms a happy and inventive year!

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