Education A National Roundup

Nation’s Oldest School Supplier To Close Retail Stores in 17 States

By Ann Bradley — January 19, 2005 1 min read

The J.L. Hammett Co., the nation’s oldest school-supply company, is closing its 60 retail stores after 142 years in business.

The stores, in 17 states, operate under the name Hammett’s Learning World and sell a variety of classroom supplies and learning resources to teachers.

The Braintree, Mass.-based company will continue to sell merchandise on its Web site. It was founded in 1863 by John L. Hammett, a former schoolteacher in Rhode Island who is credited with inventing the chalkboard eraser when he used a carpet remnant to clean his slate during a presentation. Soon, Mr. Hammett and a partner were nailing carpet pieces to blocks of wood and selling them as erasers.

A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week