Image of Victorian Ink Scraper Eraser

Now You See Me… A History of Erasers

For as long as there has been writing there have been errors and the need of an eraser to correct them.

The first writing implements and surfaces were made for mistakes, as the wet clay used in tablets could simply be smoothed over and new letters formed with the stylus. It is likely that the complexity of the glyphs used in the first written languages seen in Egypt and Sumer (now in southern Iraq) resulted in many mistakes being made as each glyph would be formed individually. It is estimated that Sumerian cuneiform had approximately 1000 different glyphs in its infancy.

In the early Middle Ages, the removal of ink from parchment would be completed with a solution of milk mixed with oat bran. Over time, the original ink would begin to reappear faintly underneath the new writing which has enabled modern scholars to decipher their original contents.

The Victorian era saw the invention of the ink scraper which was a fine pointed and very sharp metal tool used to carefully scrape the ink from the page when mistakes were made.

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Now You See Me… A History of Erasing