The Aegis

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

The variety of erasers in Joe Gorleski's collection of more than 1,600 ranges from movie characters to detailed plates of food.

Even the smallest erasers in Joe Gorleski's collection contain
lots of detail. (This is one of my least detailed erasers)

Make no mistake

Bel Air man's erasers not to be used

by Kristy Wilson

Commonly used to obliterate mistakes, erasers are tools often pushed to the back of crowded desks. To Joe Gorleski of Bel Air, though, erasers mean much more.

With a collection of more than 1,600, Gorleski has developed a special attachment to his erasers. (Actually its 2,000 erasers)

Instead of collecting baseball cards or bottle caps, Gorleski began collecting erasers when he was about 14 years old. It began on a school field trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, where he spent $10 on sea life erasers in the gift shop. On another field to the Maryland Science Center (Smithsonian Institute), Gorleski once again spent $10 on erasers.

Then it was considered a collection. After that, everywhere Gorleski traveled, he bought erasers.

"I really have never stopped. Before I knew it, it was a collection." said Gorleski, 31.

His passion for eraser-collecting has failed to subside.



Gorleski said he was even considering building a house out of small pink erasers. (A small, displayable house)

By searching the Internet, Gorleski said he finds other eraser-crazen people willing to trade him erasers he might not have, which is how he increases his massive collection. Friends and family also give Gorleski erasers as presents.

"I can (could) double my collection in five years," he said.

People who have never seen his collection before are amazed, Gorleski said. He is still amazed at his own collection.

Once in a while, when he as time, he'll spend hours looking at all the erasers. (I have never spent an hour looking...15 minutes maybe)

"I haven't gotten numb to it," Gorleski said.

Although Gorleski's wife, Christine, isn't as impassioned about the collection, she understands the importance of the collection to Gorleski.

"She realizes how important it is to me. We're both proud of it," Gorleski said.

Every few months (years), Gorleski and his wife spend an entire day cleaning all 1,660 (2,000) erasers.

The erasers are first dumped into a bucket of soap (soapy water) and towel dried. Then they are placed in Armor-All and towel dried.

Placing all the erasers back on their shelves takes more than four hours, Gorleski said, but it's worth it because it keeps the eraser in good condition.

"Not too many people realize that people collect erasers," he said.

Cringing at the thought of ever using his erasers for their intended purpose, Gorleski built two wooden cases to hold his collection of about 1,660 erasers, almost none of which are the conventional pink desk erasers. (NONE are conventional erasers) He has an entire room devoted (?) to his erasers, where visitors are always (?) taken to see the collection.

His first dimensional erasers were dolphins, sea horses and sea lions. His most recent erasers, of which he is very proud, are about 300 made in Japan.

"The Japanese ones are the best," Gorleski said.

Costing about $1 each, these extremely detailed erasers range from penguins to fruit baskets to hot dogs and ice cream cones.

Each eraser is carefully designed, and instead of using paint to create different colors, the manufacturer pieced together different colored erasers.

"I don't know who could use these," Gorleski said, pointing to the row in one of the cases devoted entirely to Japanese erasers.

Other erasers include Cabbage Patch Kids, cigarettes, binoculars, a vacuum cleaner, Transformers, Alf, "The Wizard of Oz" characters, Gumby and Pokey, a screwdriver, an orange toilet, Snoopy, a hairdryer, My Little Ponies, an Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Bart Simpson and hundreds more.