In the previous post, Bill Stewart’s “Pink Pearl” eraser was there among his art supplies. That brand of eraser was not just an art tool it was used by all. I got curious about its origin and found — the science!
On June 17, 2019, Ray Hahn wrote this: (Search: Bottle Caps and Pink Pearl Erasers)
The Eberhard Faber Company opened America’s first pencil factory in New York City in 1861 on a plot of land now occupied by the United Nations. It is uncertain when the eraser was invented, but in general terms, Joseph Priestly (the same man who discovered Oxygen) is frequently given credit for the eraser.
The history of the Pink Pearl eraser is much better documented. It was invented in 1848 in Germany when Eberhard Faber’s grandfather, Casper, decided that a new method of erasing wayward graphite marks (not, lead) might be achieved by using rubber. Erasers have been an important piece of writing history, but the pencil and the eraser were at first, two different tools. It was Faber who first added erasers to his pencils and he did so sometime after a new factory was built in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn in 1872.
The magic ingredient in the Pink Pearl is volcanic ash from Italy. When mixed with rubber, it is the pumice in the ash that gives the eraser its unique smell. Unlike poorly formulated erasers that loosen and remove paper fibers, the Pink Pearl erases by cleaning the surface. It is elementary science, which demonstrates that erasers don’t just work manually; they also work chemically. ?Pencils work because, when they are put to paper, their graphite mingles with the fiber particles in the paper. Erasers work because the polymers that are used in manufacturing them are stickier than the particles of paper. It’s that simple, graphite particles end up getting stuck to the eraser instead of the paper. Erasers are literally sticky graphite magnets. (This article appeared in an earlier form in the South Jersey Postcard Club’s McClintock Letter of October 2014, page 6.)
And More Art Tools
I have contributed photos of a lot of my old art tools to the “Museum of Lost Art Supplies” as we show in the column on the left under “Places We Like”. This is still a great collection to look over.
Recently with the extra time and a few items still to send in – I found that the site was not responsive in accepting additional items. After several attempts, I reached Lou Brooks.
Hey, Hi Ann! Sorry it took a while to get back to you. Lots of changes. Clare and I moved to McMinnville Oregon almost a year ago, and we’re still chasing our own tails to catch up. Now, the CO-VID! But on we all go. My original provider has made it difficult to get the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies site to do us much good these days. I value your contribs and friendship, Ann, and strongly request you sign up on FB for my Forgotten Art Supplies Forum Pushing 4,000 enthusiastic members and climbing. With stellar results… tons of postings, and plenty of back and forth helpful dialog. All seem to enjoy it immensely. I enjoy you posts, and would love to see your stuff up there.
Just sign up and I’ll put you right in.
I don’t do Facebook but I slipped my collectible into Richard’s FB account —to place these two examples with my written description. It went up quickly on the “Forgotten Art Supplies Forum”. I was surprised as I received twelve comments about my submission. Lou Brook’s new Facebook collection shows items that are in addition than those on his previous site.
(We are keeping the original “Museum” on this site. It is still interactive for viewing the extensive collections but it doesn’t accept new additions.) Or use this link.
I’ve thought of another subject – the Flo-master felt tip pen and its ink.
This attractive felt-tip pen could be filled and re-filled. It was available before Magic Markers and other markers appeared in art stores.
The beauty of this pen was that I could control the wet or dryness of the strokes to the paper. As you pressed the felt tip a few times to a surface, ink would flow into it. When the felt tip became partially dry, subtle shading was possible. I used it often in life drawing classes and I carried it when sketching outdoors.
This sketch, above, I made on a landscape sketching field trip in the summer of 1961 – a summer class at the Academy of Art (founded in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens) Mr. Stephens was leading us there on SF’s Telegraph Hill. At the end of class, all were invited to a coffee shop (where Scoma’s Restaurant is now) —where “Pappy Stephens” held court.
I mentioned the pen to Bill Stewart and I was surprised that he, too, remembered it as a favorite tool.
Bill Stewart wrote:
I was going to send a Pix of a Flo-Master Pen. A pre Magic Marker refillable felt pen. When I was a student, Robert Fawcett gave a lecture. Of course, everyone wanted to know what he used for his beautiful, powerful illustrations. He said a Flo-master pen. After that, all the art supply stores sold out of Flo-masters. Actually Flo-masters were originally intended for use as sign markers in the retail stores. Later, a tool for NYC subway taggers.
This was my SF office/studio room —with lovely “North light”! (1 Lombard Street, where Battery Street met the Embarcadero.) On November 6, 1997, I dragged my chairs, drawing board, lamps, two file cabinets and all of my art supplies —home.
Art supplies that I was sure I was going to need.
Now, I need to send photos of the last of my collection of art tools— to the “Forgotten Art Supplies Forum”.