Thursday, November 29, 2007

Failure 3 & The Pelikan BR40 Eraser

Back when I put up my posting on the Caran d’Ache Fixpencil stamp, I wondered which eraser was depicted on the stamp. Roi commented that he thought the eraser was the Pelikan BR40. I didn’t know this particular eraser, and thought that the eraser depicted was a fairly generic style and thus there could be many possibilities. Roi, being a stamp collector, took up the challenge. Just which actual eraser is depicted on the Fixpencil stamp? Initial contacts with Swiss Post customer relations staff seemed promising, but in the end didn’t really achieve much. The Swiss Post website had some information relating to the printers and designers, but attempts to find and contact the stamp designer ended in frustration. So, despite Detective Roi’s dedication and best efforts, ultimately we have failed to confirm the exact eraser on the stamp.

Roi kindly sent me a couple of these Pelikan BR 40 erasers, so here’s a few quick comments on them. Firstly they are a rubber eraser, with one end for pencil and one for ink. When he sent them, Roi commented, “use them gently – the orange end might stain the paper, and the blue one will tear it up!” Now that I’ve tried the eraser I think he was being a little hard on it. The BR40 is a mid size eraser – 60mm long by 20mm wide by a rather thin 8mm thick. The colours are a bit dull, but the black printing on the eraser is very good. It’s a reasonably hard rubber, the blue end does feel a little more abrasive than the orange end. Erasing HB lead with the orange (graphite) end it did a fairly reasonable job, although it certainly leaves its fair share of eraser waste behind.
The blue end is for erasing ink, and I was actually mildly impressed. I haven’t got any real frame of reference for comparison, except I seem to recall that when I was back in primary school I thought these ink erasers were utterly useless. It certainly did do some abrasive damage to the paper, but it got the ink off. Perhaps modern inks are a bit drier and more erasable than the ballpoint inks of my school-days? Anyway, I started with rather low expectations of this eraser and was pleasantly surprised.
Photo: The word “Cross” was written in ballpoint at the end of the eraser. Just the last 's' is left un-erased.

So, all that remains now is a lightning commando raid on Swiss Post headquarters, the Swiss Postmaster-General will be cornered in his office, and the truth will finally be revealed.

Footnote: Pelikan are a big player in the luxury writing instrument market, and they have plenty of mechanical pencils. I’m sure you will be surprised to hear that I have a few Pelikans packed away downstairs, so I will have to get organised and get a few out for review. Rather bad of me to not have reviewed any so far.

Footnote 2: Detective Roi has come up with another lead, stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a Lyra eraser, identical to your Pelikan in almost all respects, from the German woodclinched pencil purveyor. The question that just begs to be asked is what is the purpose of the white blank running the length of these erasers? Stability? What is the composition of this white layer?

The Lyra iteration of this eraser, model# 3443/40, is almost the exact size of your Pelikan in millimeters, and differs in appearance only to the extent that the red portion of the eraser is relatively greater than the blue (in your particular example), and has a black & white barcode imprinted below the same crisp starkly printed black lettering.

As far as performance is concerned, I am underwhelmed. Admittedly, I used the eraser in an effort to correct some mistakes I had made while using Sakura pigment ink which is touted as archival grade and, one presumes, is not easily removed. In the end, the Lyra eraser did just a good enough job that it was possible to write over the traces of the original with a level of clarity that was somewhat reproducible on my HP printer. I note from your photo that the Pelikan left behind what seems to be a blue smear of blue ink. Perhaps this would not appear to be so pronounced if you had brushed away the eraser debris?

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Anonymous.
Well as I understand it its common for the eraser manufacturers to manufacture under dozens of different other company brandnames, thus I'm sure its possible to buy the same eraser under many different names.

Don't know about the white layer - I just assume its for looks, and is just white rubber.

The Pelikan did leave behind a blue smear as in the photo, sort of ink and/or blue eraser compound ground into the paper fibres as the top layer of the paper was abraded off.

Joy of Erasers blog (use sidebar link) might be the place for you.