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African American Inventor - John Lee Love

John Lee Love invented an improved pencil sharpener and plasterers hawk


Sharpened pencils, close-up
GK Hart/Vikki Hart/ The image Bank/ Getty Images
The "Love Sharpener" was designed by John Lee Love of Fall River, Massachusetts.

John Lee Love - Improved Pencil Sharpener

John Lee Love's invention was a very simple and portable pencil sharpener. The same kind of pencil sharpener that many artists use or that can be found in an office or school room.

In John Lee Love's invention the pencil is put into the opening of the sharpener and rotated by hand. It was designed so that the shavings would stay inside the sharpener. It is interesting to note that while the patent drawing depicts the Love Sharpener as being quite plain. John Lee Love wrote that it could also be designed in a very ornate fashion and that his pencil sharpener could also be used as a desk ornament or paperweight.

Johm Lee Love's pencil sharpener was patented on November 23, 1897 (U.S. Patent # 594,114).

John Lee Love - Improved Plasterer's Hawk

Four years earlier, John Lee Love created and patented his first invention an improved plasterer's hawk. A plasterer's hawk is a flat square piece of board made of wood or metal, upon which plaster or mortar was placed and then spread by plasterers or masons. Love felt that other plasterer's hawks were too bulky to be portable so he designed one with a detachable handle and a foldable board all made from aluminum.

John Lee Love's improved plasterer's hawk was patented on July 9, 1895 (U.S. Patent # 542,419).

John Lee Love's Patents

  • Plasterer's Hawk - U.S. Patent # 542,419
  • Pencil Sharpener - U.S. Patent # 594,114
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