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 African-American inventor and carpenter John Lee Love of Fall River, Massachusetts.

Love was born on September 26, 1889. Love died along with nine other passengers on December 26, 1931, when the car they were riding in collided with a train near Charlotte, North Carolina.

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 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.

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

Improved Plasterer's Hawk

Four years earlier, 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).

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Bellis, Mary. "John Lee Love." ThoughtCo, Sep. 5, 2016, thoughtco.com/john-lee-love-profile-1992097. Bellis, Mary. (2016, September 5). John Lee Love. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/john-lee-love-profile-1992097 Bellis, Mary. "John Lee Love." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/john-lee-love-profile-1992097 (accessed December 16, 2017).