History of the Pencil Case

By Eileen Koetter
A student pencil case

Today, a pencil case is a common student item used to carry pens, pencils, erasers and possibly more, depending on the size. In looking at the history of the pencil case, it wasn’t always so common. Pencil cases have been around for more than 200 years. While the cases have always had a functional purpose, pencil cases in history have also been more elaborate and made out of precious materials, such as silver or ivory.

History of the Pencil Case

While today most pencil cases are rectangular in shape, early pencil cases were round or cylindrical. In the mid-1800s, sterling silver pencil cases were made in London to house telescoping pencils. During this same time period, wooden and metal pencil cases were also being produced in China and exported to other parts of the world. In the 1950s, banks sometimes produced pencil cases with their name to be given to customers as gifts.

First Pencil Case Patent

In the United States, the first patent for a pencil case was granted in 1946. This patent was received by Verona Pearl Amoth, who also invented several other related inventions, such as replaceable erasers for pencils. Amoth designed her pencil case to keep pencils from wearing holes in clothing and also to protect the points of the pencils. She filed her patent application for the All-Purpose Utility Pencil Case on October 12, 1944, and the patent was granted on December 24, 1946.

Design of the First Pencil Case

Amoth designed her pencil case to hold six pencils. Each pencil was inserted into an individual hole, or slot, in the end of the case, which allowed the eraser to remain protruding from the case. The case did not open, but rather the pencils were simply pulled out from the end. With this design, the case would have to be carried in the upright position in order for the pencils to stay in place. The case also had a stand to hold it upright on a desk or table. There was not room in the case for loose erasers or other writing implements and accessories.

Modern Pencil Cases

Today, pencil cases generally fall into two categories. They are either used by students to carry their pencils, pens, erasers and other writing accessories to school, or they are used to protect luxury or high-end pens. More expensive pencils, such as Mont Blanc, Waterman or Cross brands, often include the case when the pen is purchased. Elaborate individual pencil cases are also designed for collectors to display or protect very valuable pencils.

About the Author

Eileen Koetter has been writing since 1983 in various forms and on a variety of topics, including business, finance, marketing, travel, adoption, and crafts. Her early writing consisted mainly of poetry and she was first published in "The Elixir" while in college. Koetter earned degrees in public relations and English literature, has a Master of Business Administration, and has an accomplished career in corporate marketing.