The Evolution of Marker Pens

We all know and love the familiar marker pen. There is something so comforting about sitting down with your favourite selection of markers and loosing yourself in creation. But have you ever wondered where these markers came from?

Before pens themselves were invented, people would use quills and a variety of homemade instruments to make their mark. But the very first, official felt-tip marker pen was created and patented by Lee Newman in 1910. Being the first of its kind, the pen itself was rather primitive, and was basically a cylinder filled with ink that led to a felt tip.

And it was not until 1926 that the marker-pen started to evolve again. A gentleman called Benjamin Paskach patented, what he called, his ‘fountain paintbrush’. The pen was created with a sponge-tipped handle and each pen was filled with different paint colours, which was particularly novel at the time. However, for some reason these markers were not commercially viable and did not really make a stake in the selling market.

In 1944, Walter J. De Groft patented the official ‘marking pen’ in a form that we would begin to recognise today: a pen that held ink in liquid form in its handle and used a felt tip. It is this very patent that would develop the well-known ‘Sharpie’ pen, released in 1964.

It was 1952 when the first modern (and usable) marker pen was created by Sidney Rosental, labelled the ‘magic marker’. This marker fashioned a glass tube of ink for a body and a felt wick, with its name arising from the fact that it could write on virtually any surface. And then in 1962, Yukio Horie of the Tokyo Stationary Company, invented the modern fibre-nib, since which, markers became a hot commodity for artists, office and home supplies and stores.

Highlighters and fine-liners then appeared in the 1970’s and from here the marker pen business really bloomed into what it is today, with the wide array of markers in matt, metallic and glitter, in any colour you could possibly imagine. Alcohol markers, water-based markers, highlighters, fine-liners, permanent, non-permanent, you name it you can get it. And we have our marker loving predecessors to thank, for all of their trial and error that finally led to the modern design of the marker pens that we all know and love. 

Image: Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pen's as featured in March 2021 ScrawlrBox