Saturday, March 2Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Pencil Sharpener in Tagalog? History and Evolution of Design

The pencil sharpener in Tagalog is called “pantasa ng lapis” or simply “pantasa”. As the name suggests, this tool is designed to make the tip of a pencil pointy so that you can write or draw more easily. Despite being in the school supplies section, these sharpeners can also be found in offices and at home. They are also essential to teachers, artists, draftsmen, engineers, and architects.

pencil sharpener in tagalog
W. K. Foster’s pencil sharpener and “pantasa” in the Philippines

Before pencil sharpeners was invented, people used knives to sharpen pencils. However, the process was challenging, time-consuming, and often led to uneven results. Apparently, there are several versions as to who really invented pencil sharpeners. Nonetheless, a French book in 1822 mentioned that C. A. Boucher was the one who created the first pencil sharpener but he did not file for a patent.

Meanwhile, the application of the patent for the first pencil sharpener went to French mathematician Bernard Lassimone on August 7, 1828. His invention consisted of a block of wood with small metal files set at 90 degrees that would sharpen pencils. But then, the design did not become popular since the process was almost the same as using a knife.

In 1833, Robert Burton Cooper and George Frederick Eckstein of England filed for a patent for an improved pencil sharpener. The device, which was called Styloxynon, is a simple grinding box and almost looked similar to Lassimone’s invention. This pencil sharpener design was mass-produced and went on sale. Yet, it’s not so convenient to use since it should be roughly pointed with a knife before use.

Despite several other patented designs, Thierry des Estivaux, also from France, invented the pencil sharpener in 1847. The handheld device has a conical shape and the design was close to what we know now. Here, the user inserts a pencil and twists it, and all sides of the pencil would be whittled away uniformly. This design became so popular and reached the US.

In 1851, Walter K. Foster of Maine improved Estivaux’s design, and his patent was granted on April 27, 1858. The pencil sharpener is a hollow cone and looks like an ordinary candle extinguisher. Foster also founded the first pencil sharpener company in the world and sold his pencil sharpeners much cheaper than the French version. Since then, several designs of pencil sharpeners have been developed.

But in 1896, A .B. Dick Planetary Pencil Pointer released a new design of the pencil sharpener that was easier to use. Called the Planetary Pencil Pointer, this tool has two milling disks that will move in a ‘planetary motion’ while the pencil is stationary. The following year, a patent was granted to John Lee Love of Massachusetts. His pencil sharpener, called the Love Pencil Sharpener, was simple and handy.

Sometime in 1917, Farnham Printing & Stationery Co in Minneapolis started to manufacture the first electric pencil sharpener. However, it only became widely available in the 1940s. Meanwhile, the prism sharpeners (manual sharpeners) we know today are pocket-sized. With both designs, users insert the pencil into the sharpener and the tool is steady.

In the Philippines, kindergarten students are usually required to bring pantasa since they’re still not yet used to using pencils. Pencil sharpeners for kids have cute designs to make them look attractive. But since kids tend to forget them in school, many parents buy pencil cases with a built-in sharpener instead. In offices, mechanical pencil sharpeners are more common than the electrical type.

Use pantasa in a sentence.


Ang ganda ng Hello Kitty design ng pantasa na nabili ko. Tiyak, matutuwa ang anak kong babae.


The Hello Kitty design on the pencil sharpener I bought is cute. I’m sure my daughter will like it. 

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