On a colored pencil group that I belong to on Facebook, someone said she had just read about “imbibed erasers” in an older colored pencil book by Gary Greene, and wanted to know why nobody had mentioned these marvelous inventions to her before. I actually had not heard of them before, so I looked it up. An imbibed eraser is impregnated with erasing fluid that is made for erasing ink, particularly the kind from technical pens like Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph, from drafting film and some papers. Then I looked up Greene’s text (the internet knows all!). Greene had said that an imbibed eraser does a great job on colored pencil, and doesn’t damage the paper like most other types of erasers that work by scrubbing.
Intrigued, I decided I should try one of these imbibed erasers. It turns out they aren’t made anymore–they’ve gone the way of the manual typewriter and adding machine rolls. So like anything which has been discontinued, they’re worth more now–when you can find one–than they were originally. But thanks to eBay I found a business in Kansas City that deals in old office machines and accessories for them, and they had Koh-I-Noor imbibed erasers. So I bought one for a whopping $9 plus shipping, and a box of the version made in strips for use in electric erasers for $22 plus shipping, which apparently was a bargain because some were selling for upwards of $70. When they arrived, they were still sealed in their original wrappers in pristine condition.
I scribbled a fairly heavy patch of Permanent Red on a scrap of Stonehenge paper, and tried erasing it with the imbibed eraser. I was very disappointed. Even with a fair amount of scrubbing, it worked no better than poster putty. It sure made eraser crumbs, though. I also tried with one of the strips.
Just to prove it to myself, after I took this photo, I erased the other half of the patch by dabbing with poster putty. Sure enough, when I stopped, the left side looked the same as the right side. But with far less scrubbing!
Maybe they work better when they’re fresh from the factory (which isn’t happening anymore). Maybe Greene was using pencils other than Prismacolors. I don’t know.
So now I have an imbibed eraser and no use for it. Worse, when I went to toss it in the drawer where I keep my Rapidograph pen set, I discovered that I already had one!