Flo-Master was a brand of inks and markers in the second half of the 20th century, which was particularly remembered for the colorful opacity of inks. These markers were designed for glass markings, and became the weapons of choice among New York City writers of the original New York Writin ‘school in the 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1951, Cushman & Denison introduced the Flo-Master “rechargeable markers”, which targeted store owners and advertisers with limited success. In 1953, Esterbrook America took over the business in the United States and Esterbrook Pens and Cushman & Denison merged in 1960 in the United Kingdom. To counter a steep drop in business after World War II, Esterbrook worked to develop new and innovative products, and the years 1960 to 1967 saw steady progress. Under the Gem brand, the company launched its highly successful Mark I product line with the “Valve Marker” and the “Permanent Pen”. Flo-Master brand inks have been used in many of these products, and have also been sold separately for refills, marketed in handy cans with plastic “needle-nose” nozzles. In 1967, the Venus Pencil Company bought the Esterbrook Pen Company, which resulted in the creation of Venus Esterbrook.
In the Russian language flamaster (flomaster) has become a common name for any marker (regardless of the actual brand). The same is true for many other Slavic languages, e. g. Ukrainian, Polish, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Serbian or Slovene, and Baltic (Lithuanian and partly Latvian) languages, as well as the Egyptian dialect of Arabic. When street writing took the subway in New York in the early 1970s, Flo-Master opaque inks were the natural choice of graffiti artists, as they adhered to virtually any surface permanently. In addition, the ink was not only opaque on the glass, but also covered the pre-existing writing. These unique properties have allowed subway writers to “play” rivals, obliterating old “labels” with new ones. Flo-Master inks were not only colorful and durable; In addition, the design of their boxes allowed the portability, fast filling and clever “pointing” and “curling” of the “Uni-Wide” and “Mini-Wide” markers designed for writing “ribbon” on the glass – which were extremely popular with early graffiti writers.
Because of its high lead content – the ingredient that gave Flo-Master inks their distinctive attributes – production has been suspended by regulation. Flo-Master inks, once brilliant and durable, have disappeared from history, contributing to the end of the golden age of American graffiti in the mid-1980s.