Felt tip pen

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Photograph with writing
MFA# 1979.216


Drawing on cardboard
MFA# 2002.434

A writing utensil with a sturdy porous tip that wicks a constant supply of ink. Felt tip pens were first introduced in Europe in 1911 as the Signier pen by Kaweco (Ellis 1999). Early pen tips consists of a felted wool. Later, nylon and polyester fibers were used. Most recently, the tips have been made from a porous plastic. The inks are composed of soluble dyes dispersed in a resin matrix with either water or alcohol solvent. Since the 1950s, ethylene glycol has been added to the mixture to prevent the tips from drying (Ellis 1999). Many of the colored inks are fugitive and solvent sensitive.

Synonyms and Related Terms

felt-tip pen; fiber tipped pen; porous pointed pen; marker; fountain pen brush; Magic Marker® [Binney & Smith]

Resources and Citations

  • M.Holben Ellis, "Porous Pointed Pen" in Media and Techniques of Works of Art on Paper, New York University Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York, 1999.
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998