"Everybody makes mistakes—that’s why they put erasers on pencils” (or “that’s why pencils have erasers") is a saying that dates to at least 1915. The saying is used in government, schools, science, business, sports and other fields—wherever people make mistakes.
On 30 March 1858, Hymen Lipman received the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil. In 1862 Lipman sold his patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000, who went to sue the pencil manufacturer Faber-Castell for infringement. In 1875, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Reckendorfer declaring the patent invalid.
February 1915, The American Printer, pg. 728, col. 2:
The Free Press Printing Company, Burlington, Vt.—The Christmas folder is appropriate and pleasing. The blotters are also interesting, especially the one containing this phrase: “Every one makes mistakes — otherwise it would not pay to put erasers on pencils.”
September 1917, The Postal Record, pg. 222, col. 1:
We may be mistaken — everybody makes mistakes; that is why the eraser is on the end of the pencil.
15 August 1919, Fort Des Moines (IA) Post, pg. 5, col. 4:
Everyone makes mistakes—that’s why there are erasers on pencils.
10 September 1919, Edgefield (SC) Advertiser, pg. 7, col. 3 ad:
Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why they put erasers on lead pencils.
(The Bank of Trenton, S. C.—ed.)
Personal Leadership in Industry
By David Rankin Craig and Werrett Wallace Charters
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
“Everybody makes a mistake now and then. That’s why they put erasers on pencils.”
Google News Archive
12 November 1952, Ottawa (Ontario) Citizen, “Writer’s Desk Draped Black,” pg. 25, col. 2:
Last year, when Bombers were whipped in the semi-final, Coach George Trafton said the team had made plenty of errors “but that’s why they put erasers on pencils.”
“Miss Library Lady”
By Ann McLelland Pfaender
New York, NY: J. Messner
That’s why pencils have erasers and automobiles have bumpers!
By James McGovern
New York, NY: Crown Publishers
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he observed. “That’s why they’ve got erasers on pencils.”
Google News Archive
5 November 1964, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, “Buggies Were Big” by Hal Boyle, pg. 4, col. 3:
You could win a reputation as a wit by saying things like, “Everybody makes mistakes —that’s why they put erasers on pencils.”
New York City • Work/Businesses • (1) Comments • Sunday, November 06, 2011 • Permalink
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