Almanac: Pencil with attached eraser

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: March 30th, 1858, 156 years ago today . . . the day a Philadelphia inventor made his mark.

For that was the day Hyman Lipman patented the first pencil with its own eraser . . .a strip of rubber embedded in the end that had to be sharpened just like the graphite point.

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CBS News

Lipman sold his pencil eraser patent for $100,000, and lucky for him he did, because the Supreme Court erased it in 1875 -- ruling that because his pencil combined two existing devices it was not patent-worthy at all.

Though the patent was rubbed out, the pencil eraser survives to this day in the more familiar form of a piece of rubber attached by a metal band known as a ferrule.

Over the years, many of our most creative people have relied on the pencil . . . everyone from Orson Welles to Robert Redford to Luciano Pavarotti to CBS's own David Letterman.

And despite all the electronic note-taking gadgets at our disposal these days, the pencil still has its loyal users, including David Rees, the professional pencil sharpener our Mo Rocca watched at work back in 2012:

"When you really consider a Number Two pencil as an engineered communication device, it is still really efficient and really elegant. And if Steve Jobs had been the one to introduce it, people would be going crazy about what a sophisticated and simple tool it is, you know?"

In honor of Hyman Lipman, the industry celebrates today, March 30th, as National Pencil Day.

It's a day for pencil lovers to consider its many uses, including a sporting one discovered by Yahoo.

When that website asked the question, "What's the best way to lower my golf score?" the popular choice for best answer was: "Bring a pencil with an eraser."


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