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Where is Flair’s ElMarko?

May 20th, 2008 · 26 Comments

By Garland Pollard

Apparently, the “bold vivid color” of El Marko watercolor markers, made by Flair, were not long lasting enough. The pens have disappeared, though Flair pens survive, made by Newell Rubbermaid’s Paper Mate division.

In 1955, Paper Mate became part of Gillette. The Flair was launched in 1966. Gillette’s Stationary Products Division became part of Newell Rubbermaid in 2000. No word on when El Marko disappeared.

Tags: Brand History

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Matt // Dec 22, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I have a red El Marko permanent marker that I bought in junior high around 1970, I believe. It still works!

  • 2 Will // Jul 6, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I sorely miss the old El Marko brand red marker.

    I use colored markers to color code the tabs on my manilla file folders. With the old El Marko I got got a nice red color, but it was translucent enough that I could still read what I’d written on the tab. On the other hand, the “Marks-A-Lot” brand, which seems to be the only brand available around here, is so dark and opaque that it obliterates whatever I’ve written on my tabs :o(

  • 3 Anthony Gallego // Jul 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I have the green el marko and yes it is translucent…

  • 4 Anthony Gallego // Jul 15, 2009 at 11:25 am


  • 5 Anthony Gallego // Jul 15, 2009 at 12:26 pm


  • 6 Sam H // Jan 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I have a Navy Blue El Marko Permanent Marker By PaperMate. I can’t remember when i got it, but I DO know I was in Elementry School. I am now 48 years old and YES it works GREAT. The cap is air tight and it last and last!

  • 7 frank // Sep 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Am looking for information on an El Marko advertising campaign built around a Zorro theme. Any information would be apprciated.

  • 8 Lori Rogers // Jan 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Wow, El Marko is one of the first markers I had around
    1971, I was six. Does anyone remember the Mead black and while
    illustrated folders you could color in with markers? Usually they
    had a psychedelic design

  • 9 The Macalope Weekly: FUD. It's what's for dinner | WP DemoWP Demo // Jan 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

    […] sitting in the cafeteria eating out of a brown paper bag with “Microsoft” written on it with an El Marko by Microsoft’s mom. The company saw some of the PC sales volume being replaced with tablets and […]

  • 10 Mariano Corral // Feb 4, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I’m a Landscape Architect, I still my last 4 El Marko Pen are 24 years old. It still works.
    I have save them like gold. But my red color is starting to fade as I use it occassionally when the drawing is important for me. The nib was perfect. The thickness was just the right size.
    How I wish they bring it back. What can we do for the comapny to bring it back. There are millions of artists that miss this pens. What a marketing and bussiness blunder.

  • 11 Gary Glover // Aug 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I still have several El Marker markers. As they dry out I refill them with food coloring. It works. Don’t over do it. Try about six drops. Let it set about 15 minutes and test it. If it isn’t wet enough, try six more drops and test again. If you over do it, it really makes a mess, but if you follow this procedure, it is no mess at all. –Gary

  • 12 Gary Glover // Aug 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    This is for the WATER COLOR ONLY.

  • 13 lee harvey haight // Jan 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    heyare you people paying attention? anthony gallano has a GREEN one!! and yes, it IS translucent,

  • 14 Najeeb Ahmad // Feb 6, 2012 at 12:11 am

    The Grove Consultants in San Francisco ( sell the original El Marko under their name “Charters”. They’re exactly the same and fantastic!

  • 15 Garland Pollard // Feb 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I will be sure to look for it…glad to know there is a replacement.

  • 16 JustMe // Apr 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    As a matter of fact, they have not disappeared.
    The pens were discontinued in the 80’s in the US b/c a kid swallowed the cap.They are still available in Mexico! Apparently they don’t care if kids swallow the caps in Mexico.
    Those Charters markers are not the exact same as the original el Marko (I know this because I was on the team that worked with a designer to create those charters markers before Grove bought the now-defunct company. ) Charters are still a good option, but are spendy if you’re looking for more than a few at a time.

  • 17 JustMe // Apr 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    The charters are longer with a triangle base vs the short el marko with the square base..but still very nice.

    Silly I know, but apparently I am a markers nerd.

    Its so hard to find a good, non-smelly pen that will write on flipchart paper on the wall and not leak and will not roll off the table and has a snap top and and and …sorry.

  • 18 keith shepherd // Jul 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    What a fantastic product! I have two el Markos that STILL work far and away BETTER than any of those fancy expensive ‘art’ markers! I’m 55 years old now!!!

  • 19 Raymond // Dec 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I was on the original team that developed..The ElMarko…in fact, it is my image on the product. Introduced to the PaperMate sales Force in San Diego in 1970 at the Del Coronado Hotel. I still have a case or two of the markers unopened. Should maybe sell them on Ebay. I also was on the development team for the Flair pen.

  • 20 Garland Pollard // Dec 14, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Its great to hear from you Ray. What a fun history and an un-noticed contribution to my childhood! Just FYI, I have a flag that Neil Armstrong signed when I ran into him as a child at Dulles Airport. He wouldn’t of course sign on the fabric, so he signed the wooden pole in Flair pen! Sadly, it’s a bit faded but you can still see the marking and I have it framed.

    So what was the corporate structure then? The parent company you were working for at the time?

  • 21 Doz Hewson // Dec 16, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I turn 45yo next July 25. The first FLAIR pen I remember using was a White-barreled ULTRA FINE one w/Black ink, in the 1978 summer. I’ve learnt that the FLAIR pen debuted in 1966 as a REFILLABLE pen. Growing up, I’d never seen a FLAIR refillable. In fact, I don’t remember knowing that refillable FLAIR pens existed. I’ve two questions: How long were FLAIR refillable pens in production? Why was their manufacture discontinued? There is, for bid on ebay, A Red (I think) barreled FLAIR refillable, NOS, from 1966 w/extra refill. AFTER NEARLY FIVE DECADES, CAN THAT THING STILL WRITE, IN YOUR OPINION? Thanks in advance for answering.

  • 22 Jeannie // Dec 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I was going through an old trunk of my mom’s and found a red el marko marker. I took the cap off and was literally SHOCKED that it was still very much working! I’ve been out of HS for 30 years and I’m thinking that she had this for a long time before I graduated. My son who is 17 was completely impressed.

  • 23 Dan the Man // Feb 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I still have my blue El Marko from high school, purchased 32 years ago, it still works!

  • 24 Garland Pollard // Feb 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    the pens are danged amazing! Mine still works from the 1980s too….stunning!

  • 25 Alvaro // May 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Red and Navy Blue: my last two El Marko markers are still working OK, since around 1974!! Never dried out and not fading yet. Fantastic and really unsurpassed product.

  • 26 J.P. // Jun 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I’m new (as a professional) to the Visual Thinking / Mindmapping / Sketchnoting game even though I’ve been diong it my whole life. I just found what looks like, a similar, if not the same product here, at the Grove Foundation in San Francisco. Someone correct me if I’m wrong….

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