One of the key features of a well-prepared school-goer is a pencil case, and although the common student item can pretty much be defined as anything used to carry a collection of pencils, pens, and rulers (amongst other stationary), ranging from tin boxes to plastic zip-up bags. But while it is more widespread than that, with technically any bag or holding device able to hold such equipment, such a simple concept for a specific pencil case product had to have been invented by someone, but who was it, and when?
Despite the pencil case having been around for over 200 years, the cases as we know them today were not thought of until 1946. With a history of being made from precious materials (e.g. silver or ivory) and seen as a rich accessory to an expensive pencil or pen, the idea to create a more practical, ‘all-round’ feel for the object, came in 1946, when a patent application from 1944 was granted to American stationary expert Verona Pearl Amoth.
She created this new design of pencil case in order to prevent pencils from making gradual holes in clothing, with the added purpose of protecting the points on the pencils. The patent for an ‘All-Purpose Utility Pencil Case’ was granted, and the product has advanced from a slightly flawed ‘slot’ design to become an even more all-purpose product, and while the older approach (expensive materials for delicate stationary) still exists to an extent, it is the student-friendly product that dominates the market.
The humble pencil is, globally, one of the most common tools used to write on paper, and there are a wide range of different types of pencils, but who invented the most widely-seen type of pencil (graphite with wood casing) seen today, and in doing so creating a stereotypical image for a product that is used at home, work, and school?
Although there were early attempts at making a pencils from ancient Egyptians and Romans, and also in the 1500’s, where English farmers used plain graphite to mark sheep. Both were reasonable methods for their purpose, the material on its own would leave marks on the user’s skin and were prone to breaking easily.
In 1795, a French officer belonging to the army of Napoleon invented and patented the first quality pencil on earth. Nicholas Jacques Conte (aka NJ Conte) discovered that ground graphite, when mixed with the right kinds of clay, produced the best lead for pencils. A great myth is that pencils are made of lead, but the thin black material in pencils is actually a mix of graphite, carbon, and clay. NJ Conte, managed to turn this graphite into powder, mixing it with moist doughs of clay and then pressing the materials into thin sticks, which were then ‘cooked’ to make the ‘pencil lead’. The modern wooden casing seen in most original pencils today would soon follow, providing a no-mess and more shatter-resistant protection for the product. The Faber family would soon take on this product into mass production, and the rest is history.
To date, there are 350 different types of pencils, used for a variety of purposes, and fitting different budgets. With a variety of shades and new and creative methods being sold for novelty (e.g. giant, twisty, ect.), it is an ever-expanding product, and one that is used in all walks of life, as it is very difficult to live a lifetime without using one.
Schools are designed as places for children to learn, and develop future life skills as they gradually grow up and move on into adult society. It can be difficult for some kids do get excited about it all, though, so what name shoulders the blame when a child says ‘I hate school!’? Who invented school?
Although there have been hundreds, maybe thousands of years of tradition in teaching children in an organised manner, such as in the cultures of Byzantines, Romans, or Greeks (famed for seeking knowledge), it is not these civilizations that were thought to come up with the idea of a fully-organised and formal schooling system. That credit falls to Horace Mann, who was supposed to have started a school system.
Mann, an outstanding college president and educator, planned and started the American school system in Bridgewater and Lexington, Massachusetts around 1837. He supported the idea of a ‘Prussian’ education system. But these facts do not make him the man who started the idea of school because there were already a lot of schools established in his time, although there was no system in place to bind them together as seen today, and might not have been but for Mann’s intervention. There are now systems for schooling purposes in most countries of the world.
In 1369, a Mr. Harry P. School was said to have developed the modern type of school, starting with the the idea of gathering naughty children from the neighborhood and locking them up in a building. The idea seemed good to the parents, and later they employed an adult to look after the youngsters, and the rest is history. In most countries, school is now compulsory.
Below is a video based on the history of compulsory schooling: