We thought Eraser Mate & Scripto Erasable Pens from the 80s were basically magic

Vintage Eraser Mate and Scripto Erasable Pens from the 80s

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Launching in 1979, when many Gen Xers were around middle school age, the entire erasable pens concept was some delightfully strange voodoo. Never mind that it was a messy and imperfect tech — we were all in!

Here’s a look back at how well received these special back-to-school supplies were back in the day.

When the Eraser Mate pen’s debut was national news (1979)

Adapted from The Longview Daily News (Washington) January 30, 1979

The Paper Mate division of The Gillette Company announced a major technological breakthrough in writing instruments with the introduction of the Eraser Mate pen, a refillable ballpoint pen with truly erasable ink. 

The pens and refills (designed to fit only Eraser Mate pens) will be available in three ink colors: blue, black, and red.

Vintage 80s EraserMate 2 erasable pen (1982)
Vintage 80s EraserMate 2 erasable pen (1982)

The patented Eraser Mate ink, which was granted patent number 4,097,290 by the U.S. Office of Patents, is as erasable as a No. 2 pencil for a period of up to several days before becoming permanent. The length of time to achieve permanency depends on the writing surface.

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“We have been working on an erasable ink system in our research and development labs for almost 10 years now,” said William H. Holtsnider, president of Paper Mate.

“We feel that the Eraser Mate pen will revolutionize the writing habits of millions of people, and we are certain that it will mark a major breakthrough in the writing instrument business.”

Researcher demonstrates elasticiy of new erasable ink (1979)

Each Eraser Mate pen features a pressurized refill that will write at any angle, even upside down. Development of the pen took place at the writing instrument research and development laboratory of The Gillette Company in Boston. Manufacturing of the pen will take place at Paper Mate’s U.S. manufacturing plant in Santa Monica, Calif.


Vintage 80s Eraser Mate erasable pen in package

Eraser Mate 2: The erasable ink pen, by Paper Mate – The pen that erases mistakes

Vintage 80s Eraser Mate erasable pen

Paper Mate Eraser Mate ballpoint pens
$14.67 $7.48

Launching in 1979, when many Gen Xers were around middle school age, these erasable pens were basically magic. Never a perfect technology (and largely displaced by other options like Pilot's Frixion pens these days), the Eraser Mate brand persists, seemingly still useful for those of us trying to keep sharp with off-line crossword puzzles!

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02/19/2024 06:14 am GMT

80s Scripto erasable pens

Win the battle against the blotches, smudgies and globbies

The Scripto Erasable Pen beats the blotchies, stops the smudgies, and grabs the globbies. Its smooth writing ink won’t skip or glob like other erasable pens. And it erases without smearing or smudging.

So get the pen with the Happy Thumb on the package and see why everyone’s turning thumbs up for Scripto.

Scripto erasable pens

MORE: Remember stickers from the 80s that came on rolls & sheets?


A vintage 80s Scripto Erasable Pen in the package

Scripto Erasable Pen in package

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Vintage 80s erasable pen lineup from Scripto (1982)

Vintage 80s erasable pens from Scripto (1982)

1980s Scripto erasable pens preferred over Erasermate ad (1982)


Erasable pens from Eraser Mate & Scripto (1983)

Excerpted from an article in the Chicago Tribune (Illinois) – March 23, 1983

Indications are that 100 million erasable pens (82 percent of them disposables) were sold in 1982. That’s a pretty impressive share of the 1.4 billion stick (ballpoint) pen market last year.

Scripto, Inc.’s Doug Martin, a onetime executive of Gillette’s Paper Mate division, thinks the erasable-pen market could move up to 150 million units this year, depending on what Bic Pen does to promote its new line.

Martin points out that Scripto’s and Gillette’s erasable pens accounted for 26 percent of all stick-pen dollar sales during the back-to-school period last fall.

“With those numbers, there obviously is a good deal of enthusiasm about erasable pens,” Martin said during an interview. Martin claims that Scripto has 36 percent of unit volume, and 40 percent of dollar sales in the erasable-pen market.

Vintage 80s Eraser-Mate erasable pens

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Comments on this story

3 Responses

  1. Erasable pens became trendy in the early 80s, and to us high schoolers, they truly seemed like a gift from the gods! They were also a bit controversial, with police advising people not to use them to sign checks or legal documents, lest your signature be erased and changed.

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