Grateful American® Foundation

When was the pencil patented?

March 30th

PencilPatentMarch 30, 1858 — The pencil with an attached eraser was patented today. The new design was invented by Philadelphia’s Hymen L. Lipman (March 20, 1817 – November 4, 1893) who received US Patent 19,783.

Born March 20, 1817, in Kingston, Jamaica, to English parents, Lipman’s family emigrated to the US in 1829. By 1840, Lipman became the leading stationer in town, and in 1843 started the first envelope company in the US.

In 1862: Lipman sold his patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000, who went on to sue the pencil manufacturer Faber for infringement.

In 1875: The Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Reckendorfer declaring the patent invalid because his invention was actually a combination of two already known things with no new use.

Words of Wisdom

In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.

Image by Van Gough: Sketch on cream, machine-made wove paper; pencil, pen, ink.

— Vincent Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother Theo on Oct. 3, 1883: "I drew, among others, a woman in the barge with crepe around her cap because she was in mourning, and later a mother with a small child - this one had a purple scarf around her head."

Partners & Supporters