Hey man, we all make mistakes. Some of us more so than others; that’s why one of the reasons I love writing with pencils is that they’re erasable. But we pencil geeks know that once you get into the realm of exotic pencils — Asian pencils, “drawing” pencils, etc. — sometimes they don’t actually come with an eraser. Of course, even those of us who stay safely within the realm of #2 “school and office” pencils and have an eraser always at our penciltips know that not all erasers actually, well, erase. So I reckon if I’m going to write a blog that focuses heavily on pencil reviews, I should review a few erasers while I’m at it.
What’s a good review without a benchmark? Something ubiquitous, middle-of-the-road, and easily obtainable to compare against, which you, dear reader, are probably familiar with? With those criteria established, I ran across the street to the office supply store and picked up a three-pack of the most cliche eraser I could find: the Papermate Pink Pearl, which will be the subject of my first eraser review.
The Pink Pearl, made in Malaysia, advertises itself as “smudge resistant” and 100% latex free. It’s the prototypical block eraser: pink, rubber, and formed into a parallelepiped (that’s a word I just learned while writing this, and have no idea how to pronounce).
The rubber is supple. Maybe a little too supple. My first thought when applying it to the page was that it was very bendy. I’m not such a fan of floppy erasers, because it makes them hard to control and to apply adequate pressure. The Pink Pearl is pretty loosey-goosey.
Since this is my first eraser review, I want to discuss methodology for a moment. I decided that my testing criteria for this eraser, and future review subjects, should encapsulate a range of paper choices and pencil grades, just to present the complete picture. Therefore, I tested the Pink Pearl against the Castell 9000 HB and the Palomino Blackwing, on both a Rhodia pad (smooth) and an index card (rough). I figured that would be a good representation of either end of those spectrums that writers are reasonably likely to encounter.
I didn’t try to standardize a specific number of strokes; I figure the most important thing is how well it eventually erases a mark before it can’t remove any more graphite. I intended to simply note the perceived ease or difficulty in obtaining that result, if it occurred to me to be noteworthy.
Now, for the actual performance!
Unfortunately the Pink Pearl struggled to adequately erase the marks I tried it on, for the most part. Completely removing every last trace of a mark is a tall order for any eraser, but I expect that it should at least fade a line so that it can be cleanly written over without distracting the reader. My observation is that the Pink Pearl only accomplishes this when erasing a hard pencil on smooth paper. It struggled to remove the Castell 9000 HB on the index card, and left a dark, clearly-legible remnant of the Blackwing on both paper testbeds.
The good news is that the Pink Pearl doesn’t make too huge of a mess. Erasing a couple of words leaves behind just a few crumbs that cling together in a big roll. I didn’t notice it smearing graphite excessively, even on the soft-leaded Blackwing. It seemed relatively gentle on the paper I put it up against — and I even tested it against some cheap, thin paper to verify. It didn’t appear to cause any particular trauma. Finally, it seems fairly durable. I don’t know how to quantify that, but I feel like it would be hard to burn through a Pink Pearl before losing it.
The three-pack I bought at Office Depot set me back about $4. That’s not an especially good price point considering the performance. You can get much better erasers for the same price or a few bucks more — if they’re available.
The Papermate Pink Pearl has some things going for it: it’s everywhere, it’s fairly clean, it doesn’t seem to rip holes in paper, and it’ll last you a while. The problem is that it just doesn’t erase that well. That’s kind of an important feature of an eraser. If you’re just looking for something to erase everyday writing by an everyday hard pencil on everyday smooth paper, the Pink Pearl will do the trick alright, but its performance drops off quickly if your writing habits start to deviate from that median. At best, it’s an average eraser for average writers.