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Pentel Co., Ltd.
Japan Stationery Co., Ltd. (1946–71)
Private K.K.
Founded1946; 73 years ago (1946) [1]
FounderYokio Horie [2]
Area served
Worldwide [3]
Key people
Yukio Horie (President 1946–2010)[4]
ProductsWriting implements, art materials, office products

Pentel Co., Ltd. (ぺんてる株式会社, Penteru Kabushiki Gaisha) is a privately held Japanese manufacturing company of stationery products. The name is a combination of the English words pen and tell (as in, telling a story).[5] Pentel is also the inventor of non-permanent marker technology. Most Pentel products are manufactured in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and France.

The company is regarded as the inventor the fibre-tipped (felt-tip) pen in 1963.[6] Nowadays, Pentel produces a wide range of products that include writing implements, art materials and office goods.


The company was founded in 1946 as "Japan Stationery Limited" in Tokyo by Yokio Horie, with the purpose of manufacturing crayons and pastels. The first products for sale were released in 1951, followed by pencils in 1960.[2]

In 1963 Pentel launched the "Sign Pen", a fibre-type pen that was used by then President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, who bought a dozen of them to sign photographs, apart from being adopted as the official writing instrument of NASA and went into space with a Gemini mission in 1966.[7] Demand for a Sign Pen was so extraordinary that the Tokyo factories could not supply all requests.[7] The Sign Pen was one of Pentel's most successful products with more than two billion units sold.[2]

In 1971 the company changed its name to "Pentel Co. Ltd." and one year later, the green rollerball pen with water-based ink, was launched.[2] Horie remained as President of the company until his death in 2010.[6]

In the 2010s, Pentel launched the "Pocket Brush",[8][9] a fudepen that used replaceable waterproof[10] ink cartridges like fountain pens, unlike conventional brush pens, which are more like marker pens.[11]

Brush pens (designed and recommended for calligraphy) have also gained popularity among comic book artists, who choose them to ink their works instead of dip pens or traditional brushes. One of those artists using Pentel was Neal Adams.[12]


Range of products manufactured by Pentel includes:[13]

RSVP pens
Type Products
Writing implements Rollerball pens, gel pens, ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils, fountain pens, marker pens, highlighters, brush pens, refills
Art materials Oil pastels, crayons, watercolors
Office supplies Erasers, correction fluids, correction tapes, glues


Former SIS officer Richard Tomlinson alleges that Pentel Rolling Writer rollerball pens were extensively used by agents to produce secret writing (invisible messages) while on missions.[14] An agent would write the secret message on a piece of paper, then place a blank piece of paper over the message, pressing the two pages together for a moment. When they are separated, the second page looks completely blank but contains a latent (invisible) copy of the message. The agent then destroys the first piece of paper. Simply rubbing the blank-looking second piece of paper with an ink pen reveals the latent message.


  1. ^ "Pentel Corporate Report", Pentel Corporation, January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Pentel celebrates 70 years of success
  3. ^ Pentel international locations
  4. ^ Pentel Japanese site corporate information Archived 2011-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ 「ぺんてる」の社名の由来とは? Pentel Co., Ltd. history. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  6. ^ a b History of pen and writing instruments About Inventors site. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
  7. ^ a b History of the Pentel Sign Pen on Pen Cult website
  8. ^ Pentel Pocket Brush features
  9. ^ Pentel brush on Cult Pens website
  10. ^ Review: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen by Teoh Yi Chie, December 28, 2014
  11. ^ Pentel Pocket Brush Pen: A Comprehensive Guide June 4, 2019 on Jet Pens
  12. ^ Larry Hama interview in Comic Book Resources Archived 2009-06-07 at the Wayback Machine June 3, 2009
  13. ^ Pentel catalog on Pentel of America, Ltd. (archived), Sep 21, 2010
  14. ^ Tomlinson, Richard: The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security, pg 44. Mainstream Publishing 2001 ISBN 1-903813-01-8

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