Permanent markers belong to over half a century to the daily lives of many people. Whether in the office, at school, in warehouses or used by graffiti writers, permanent markers are now an indispensable part of everyday life. The common name for a permanent marker in Germany is edding, according to the famous German manufacturer of writing products of all kinds. However, many people just call them felt pen when speaking of permanent markers.
The history of permanent markers dates back to 1910. At that time, Lee W. Newman patented the first marking pen; the first modern permanent marker should have been the Magic Marker, which was developed in 1952 by Sidney Rosenthal. According to other sources, the first marker was developed in the early 1960s in Japan and was initially made of bamboo and a piece of felt (see Monahan, P, Powell, D.: Advanced Marker Techniques Mcdonald & Co Publishers Ltd. 1987). The first commercial permanent marker – like the classic example of the Magic Marker – consisted of a small glass bottle with an upper part that held the felt nib. They were marketed in the 1960s. Later the body of the markers was also made of aluminum and plastic. The Magic Marker became popular for illustration in art studios and advertising agencies. The classic “glass bottle”- Magic Marker was, similar to other ones like the Letraset Pantone Marker (Letraset Tria Marker), the Chartpak AD Marker or the modern day Copic Marker range designed as a layout marker.
A typical permanent marker consists of a container (either glass, aluminum or plastic), which is filled with felt or some sort of wadding. This filling serves as a carrier for the water-proof ink. The upper part of the marker contains the nib that was made in earlier time of a hard felt material, and a cap to prevent the marker from drying out. Until the early 1990s the most common solvents that were used for the ink were Toluene and Xylene. These two substances are both harmful and characterized by a very strong smell. Today, the ink is usually made on the basis of alcohols (eg 1-propanol, 1-butanol, diacetone alcohol and cresols).
In addition to the classic permanent marker there are also paint markers with a paint-like opaque ink, which could be also be water-based (Gouache or Tempera). Unlike the classic permanent markers the ink isn´t absorbed by wadding, it´s free flowing inside the marker. The ink flow is controlled via valve action. A paint marker contains in addition a tiny ball (either glass or metal) that mixes the paint when shaking the marker.