Who Invented the Pencil Sharpener?

A look at the history of pencil sharpeners shows that the Frenchman Bernard Lassimone was the first to get a patent for pencil sharpeners in 1828. Following his invention, other designers made improvements and refinements.


The Early Pencil Sharpeners

Pencils had been invented before the sharpener and people used knives to sharpen them. It was a tedious process and the result was uneven. After Lassimone’s invention, Therry des Estwaux came out with a mechanical sharpener in 1844.

It took a while before the devices were accepted. But by 1865 companies were already manufacturing pencil sharpeners. A company called Eureka filed a patent for a small sharpener sometime in the mid 1860s.

By the 1880s, several companies started producing them in larger numbers. One of the most well known companies in the early history of pencil sharpeners was Eagle Pencil Company in New York.

A Look at Early Pencil Sharpeners

From the 1880s to the early 1900s, many kinds of pencil sharpeners were developed in Europe and America. The electric sharpeners came out around 1917, but other types were produced. 1916’s New Era Pencil Sharpener resembled a plunger. The pencil would be placed inside the device and press it again and again. This process sharpened the blade.

Another unique device was the Babock Duplex Pencil Sharpener. The device was patented in 1900 and came with a rotary of 6 blades. The history of pencil sharpeners shows that it was operated in the following manner.


When the pencil was inserted, the blades would rotate around it. The right hand operates the crank that rotates the blade. The left hand operates the metal bar.

One of the earliest sharpeners was invented by Guhl and Hurbeck in 1897 in Germany. It was called the Jupiter Pencil Pointer and weighed 5 lbs. it was 12 inches long and had over 30 cutting edges.

John Love’s Pencil Sharpener

In 1897, John Love (Massachusetts) patented the Love Sharpener. It was one of the many that came out during the period, but its design was simple and effective. It would form the basis for a lot of modern sharpeners. Love’s device was pivotal in the history of pencil sharpeners.

What set it apart was its simplicity. One just had to put the pencil in the device and rotate. As the pencil rotated and sharpened, the shaved parts were kept in the device.

This concept and design is still used in many designs today. The Love Sharpener had a simple design. But it could be modified to function as a paperweight.

Sharpeners Today

Most commercial sharpeners sold are mechanical (hand powered) or electric. However some are more specialized. These devices are used to sharpen non standardized pencils like those used in art.

A lot of sharpeners sold today have two holes, but others come with several. Carpenters and graphic artists may have different types of sharpeners at their disposal.

The origin and history of pencil sharpeners isn’t something people usually think about. The device isn’t revolutionary, but it has made drawing and writing more convenient.