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Link: pencil talk index

Seed HeshIQ 01 Eraser

Seed HeshIQ 01 Eraser

These are a set of nine “L”-shaped erasers from Seed of Japan. (Shown on Strathmore 400 Series Artagain black paper.)

The nine erasers together form a 3x3x3 cube. If you search the web, you’ll see that this is an example of a range of tiling/puzzle/cube problems that have attracted interest over the years. Mathematician John Conway is especially well known in this area.

Though interesting, I wish that the eraser pattern was a little more challenging to reassemble.

The erasers are good quality white vinyl, though probably impractical for frequent use. Of course with the pieces scattered on your desk, one will likely always be in sight, so there are merits.

If you like this sort of amusement, here’s my favorite online tile puzzle: Quzzle. I’ve neither solved it nor lost interest.

I also recommend browsing around the Seed site if you’re interested in erasers. They appear to have some very interesting products which unfortunately aren’t yet widely available outside Japan.

Results (The Great Debate II: pencils with or without an eraser?)

Thank you to all who voted and/or commented.

By a wide margin (30 to 9), this corner of pencildom has voted for pencils without erasers.

Comments indicated a wide variety of views. scruss finds that a ferrule and eraser ruin a pencil’s balance, while Matt took the opposite view.

People here certainly use pencils! burmeseboyz noted that the ferrule/eraser interfere with pencil extenders, while Kent educated us with some cultural history.

Though few in number, votes came from at least four continents!

Combining the results with those of the first poll, pencil aficionados want their pencils sold unsharpened, with no eraser. I’d say this is reflected to some extent in the way the very top tier of pencils tend to be sold (e.g. Tombow), but not by the overall marketplace. This may be appropriate, since I doubt that those who frequent sites like this are typical pencil consumers.

Thanks again to all participants.

The Great Debate II: pencils with or without an eraser?

The Great Debate: pencils with or without an eraser?

Following our first poll on pre-sharpened pencils, we consider the question of pencils being sold with attached erasers.

The manufacturer lineup is a bit different than on the sharpened/unsharpened question. American manufacturers tend to be the ones generally offering pencils with erasers. But exceptions abound – the photo shows the famous Faber-Castell 9000 in both traditional and eraser attached versions. Japanese manufacturers do make at least novelty pencils with erasers.

There are some potential problems with attached erasers. The eraser isn’t always the type one would like. The photo shows a white vinyl eraser, but most pencils come with a Pink Pearl style eraser. What if you don’t like the style or type of eraser that comes with your pencil? You are stuck.

The eraser on a pencil tip is also fairly small, and can easily be used up if one does a lot of erasing. The remaining bit of ferrule and eraser stub doesn’t look so appealing, nor is it useful.

The eraser can also harden over time. The erasers on many older pencils are dried up, even though the pencil is still otherwise in great condition. Some ferrules can also rust over time.

Note: The Kita-Boshi Wood Note pencil and Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil are both exceptions. They were designed to allow eraser replacement:

The Great Debate: pencils with or without an eraser?

As well, consider the manufacturer’s dilemma – a first rate pencil (the core of the business) could be diminished in the marketplace by a second rate eraser.

On the plus side, the attached eraser can be an immense convenience. One single object to hold and use is the ideal.

It is also what some may consider to be an intrinsic part of the pencil experience. It just “feels right” for many.

This mode of usage continues in modern touch screen devices. I attended a lecture where the speaker had a touch sensitive tablet, and wrote on it with a stylus. The tablet screen was projected onto a large cinema-style screen so that the audience could observe. To edit a diagram, the speaker turned the stylus upside down and “erased” previous markings. The well known interface of pencil erasing was carried on in a paper-less, pencil-less format.

So what do you prefer, and more importantly, why? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.


Graf von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi, also known as one mighty fine eraser.

Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
There are erasers, and then there are erasers. Once again, the Graf von Faber-Castell line exceeds expectations. An elegant white vinyl eraser with ribbing that matches their pencil line (and sharpeners), the eraser looks good as is. With a silver-plate cover, it becomes a must have object for pencil lovers.
Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
The eraser is in the typical shape – a three dimensional parallelogram. (Those with recollections of high school geometry can assist me if there is a more precise name.) The ribbing is lengthwise, and it’s a nice weight for such an object. With the cover (which looks engravable), it becomes even nicer.
Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
I’ve been using some soft lead vintage pencils this weekend, and this eraser removes even very dark lines with aplomb. The residue is unusually fine, which may not be ideal depending on the circumstance in which it is used.
Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
Overall, it’s a functional, creative and elegant rendition of a stationery staple.