Sharpie (marker)

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Sharpie markers logo.svg
Product typeMarker pens, gel pens, rollerball pens
OwnerNewell Brands
Introduced1964; 57 years ago (1964)[1]
Related brandsuni-ball
Previous ownersSanford L.P. (1964–1990)[1]

Sharpie is a brand of writing implements (mainly permanent markers) manufactured by Newell Brands, a public company, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally designating a single permanent marker, the Sharpie brand has been widely expanded and can now be found on a variety of previously unrelated permanent and non-permanent pens and markers formerly marketed under other brands. This article focuses on the legacy Sharpie permanent marker line.

Sharpie markers are made with several tips. The most common and popular is the Fine tip. Other tips include Ultra Fine Point, Extra Fine Point, Brush tip, Chisel tip, and Retractable tip. Apart from markers and highlighters, Sharpie products include gel and rollerball pens.


"Sharpie" was originally a name designating a permanent marker launched in 1964 by the Sanford Ink Company (established in 1857). The Sharpie also became the first pen-style permanent marker.[1][2]

In 1990, Sharpie was acquired by The Newell Companies (later Newell Rubbermaid) as part of Sanford, a leading manufacturer and marketer of writing instruments.[3]

In 2005, the company's popular Accent highlighter brand was repositioned under the Sharpie brand name. A new version of Sharpie called Sharpie Mini was launched, which are markers half the size of a normal Sharpie and feature a clip to attach the Sharpie to a keychain or lanyard. In 2006, Sharpie released a new line of markers that had a button-activated retractable tip rather than a cap. Sharpie Paint markers were also introduced. As of 2011, 200 million Sharpies had been sold worldwide.[4] Sharpie markers are manufactured in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico and Maryville, TN, and with numerous off-shore partners globally.[5][6]


Fltr (left): Sharpie sponsorship on a NASCAR car, 2014; (right): branded products on sale in London

Sharpie sponsored the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500, a popular night-time race at Bristol Motor Speedway, from 2001 through 2009.[2] For the 2010 season, Newell Rubbermaid switched the sponsorship for this race to its Irwin Tools brand. Sharpie sponsored the Nationwide Series Sharpie Mini 300 race from 2004 to 2008. Before 2006, they sponsored Kurt Busch, who was the 2004 Sprint Cup champion. Sharpie also sponsored Jamie McMurray in the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

In recent years, Sharpie commercials have followed the slogan "Write Out Loud". These advertisements depict people using Sharpies in bad situations, such as using the marker to touch up a car and a college woman highlighting words in a book to notify a male student that his fly was open. Also, a middle-aged woman trying to think of what to write for her resignation letter, writes "I QUIT" with a red Sharpie. David Beckham is sponsored by Sharpie and appears in a commercial signing autograph with a Sharpie and trying to steal them.[7]

Product features[edit]

Sharpie products
From left to right (above): marker types, black marker; (below): color markers line, and several Sharpies exhibited in a store

Hand sanitizer and acetone based nail polish remover are said to be effective on permanent markers.[8] Sharpie official FAQ suggests trying a product called Amodex stain remover.[9] Though Sharpie ink will become mostly permanent after setting, it can be erased. A dry erase marker is usually successful in removing sharpie ink by covering the sharpie ink using three to four pen strokes.[10]

Sharpie ink that has dried for more than several hours can be removed with acetone and other ketones and esters, such as ethyl acetate, but acetone and other organic solvents may damage the surface of the material written upon. Isopropyl alcohol works well and is less damaging to some surfaces; rubbing alcohol is the dilute form, so it works more slowly. On some surfaces, the ink can be removed by coloring over the ink with a dry erase marker (since this marker's ink contains organic solvents) and then removing the Sharpie ink and dry erase marker ink with a dry cloth. Steam cleaning has proved effective, as have rubber erasers. Magic Eraser has also proven somewhat effective on hard surfaces such as brick and very effective on wood furniture. On non-porous surfaces, denatured alcohol is the most effective solvent for the removal of Sharpie ink, and it is safe for use on most plastics. Certain brands of water-resistant spray-on sun screen have proven very effective at breaking the ink bond with the substrate, plastic or painted surfaces, allowing full removal without damaging the surface itself.

There are no warning labels on Sharpie markers. They bear the new AP (Approved Product) certification symbol of The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). According to the organization:[11]

"The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. (Sanford LP became a member of ACMI in 1986) However, this does not mean that materials are not irritants or allergens. Such products are certified by ACMI to be labeled by the chronic hazard labeling standard, ASTM D 4236, and the U.S. Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA)."

They are considered non-toxic for "normal uses", meaning writing on posters, soccer balls and such. Sharpie is not meant for the skin but is not dangerous with incidental exposure.

In popular culture[edit]

Actress Lyndsy Fonseca handling a Sharpie at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival

During an October 14, 2002 National Football League Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens pulled a black Sharpie marker out of his sock to sign the football he caught to score a touchdown and then gave the ball to his financial adviser, who was in the stands.[12] The touchdown celebration would bring a resurgence to the NFL for new and innovative ways to celebrate touchdowns. It has commonly been referred to by sports fans as "The Sharpie Incident" or "The Sharpie Touchdown".[citation needed]

Special Camp David Sharpies were made for United States President George W. Bush, who has long been loyal to the brand.[13]

Sharpie markers are favored by illustrator Adam Hughes for inking large areas in his convention sketches.[14][15]

Sharpies are the writing utensil of choice by astronauts aboard the International Space Station because of their usability in zero-gravity. According to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who commanded the International Space Station in 2012–2013, "you can hold it any which way and it still works".[16]

Former president Donald Trump has a well-known preference for using Sharpies to sign official government documents, as he did when he gave autographs.[17]

In September 2019, Trump was involved in a "Sharpie-gate" controversy, as CNN reported: "Trump defended an apparent Sharpie-altered map of Hurricane Dorian's predicted path."[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Sharpie History". 2014-01-30. Archived from the original on 2014-05-02. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  2. ^ a b Freeth, Nick (2005). Made in America. MBI Publishing. p. 246. ISBN 0-7603-2270-8.
  3. ^ "Sharpie in Newell Rubbermaid page". Archived from the original on 2011-12-05. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  4. ^ "SHARPIES: One of the Greatest American Inventions Ever! [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] | Fierce and Nerdy". Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^, Rachel Totten. "Newell to add jobs at Maryville plant after Mexicali fire". The Daily Times. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  6. ^ "sharpies manufactured in Maryville - Google Search". Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  7. ^ "David Beckham Signs With Sharpie - OAK BROOK, Illinois, March 6 /PR Newswire UK/". OAK BROOK, Illinois: 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  8. ^ "How to erase permanent-marker graffiti". Popular Science. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  9. ^ "Faqs | Sharpie". Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  10. ^ "Marking pen ink! - Birds and Blooms". Birds and Blooms. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  11. ^ "On Your Marks, Get Set, Remove? >> Background Information >> Sharpies". Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  12. ^ Litsky, Frank (2002-10-16). "PRO FOOTBALL; Signature Move by the 49ers' Owens Creates a Stir". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  13. ^ Bedard, Paul (September 17, 2006). "Washington Whispers - Better Make It a Sharpie-or Else". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on July 16, 2013. (archived 2013)
  14. ^ Coulson, Steve (2017-04-06). "Adam Hughes - Anatomy of a sketch, Pt2 - The Process". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2017-04-06. May 15, 2006; Accessed September 8, 2010
  15. ^ Coulson, Steve (2016-04-22). "Adam Hughes - Anatomy of a sketch, Pt3 - The Tools". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. May 15, 2006; Accessed September 8, 2010
  16. ^ Hadfield, Chris (2013). An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. London: Macmillan. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-4472-5751-6.
  17. ^ "'Make it look rich': Trump told Sharpie to create a custom pen for him to sign important documents". Business Insider. November 2018.
  18. ^ Stelter, Brian (September 8, 2019). "Trump failed a basic geography test". CNN. CNN's Brian Stelter gets to the bottom of President Donald Trump's "Sharpie-gate" controversy, in which Trump defended an apparent Sharpie-altered map of Hurricane Dorian's predicted path.

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