Some History about Markers

magic marker

Cut-away view of a magic marker | Schnitt durch einen Magic Marker (Monahan, P; Powell, D.: Advanced Marker Techniques. Mcdonald & Co Publishers Ltd. 1987, p. 14)

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).

Artline Popmate Marker detail

Unscrewed top of a marker and wadding inside the markers barrel

poster marker artline

Example of a Paint/Gouache Marker: Parts of an Artline Poster Marker

Parts of the valve

Artline Poster Marker

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.


  1. John

    Is the German just a translation of the above paragraphs or what. Ich verstehe nicht. Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut.

  2. Jan

    thanks for this~~~
    i checked a lot of websites but its like people don’t care about markers…..

  3. Philip Tomlinson

    As someone who is curently learning a lot about paint markers and markers in general, I found it pretty cool that this site is even mentionned on Wikipedia’s marker pen page!

  4. carol marks-smith

    Just stumbled on your page by accident as I was trying to find out if my uni paint permanent marker pens were fake as a customer brought back their glasses because the ink washed off in water, when clearly they are suppose to be permanent. My pens I bought on Amazon and some on eBay and these are from veitnam. I’m trying to see if I can bake them in the oven to seal them but and am looking on line for true permanent markers as customers are going to end up bringing them back in to me for a refund or replacement. very upset and worried what to do! I only started my business a few months ago and this could financially ruin me.

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