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  Space pens, Sharpies and other signing tools (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   Space pens, Sharpies and other signing tools
Rob Sumowski
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posted 10-24-2007 07:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The unscientific conclusion I take from Kim's post is that silver and gold paint pens tend to fade infinitely less than any color of Sharpie. Our own informal cS studies have shown that Sharpies of all colors do indeed fade, though at different rates. My own observations about paint pen vs. Sharpie signatures have been the same as Kim's. I use paint pens whenever possible and I avoid Sharpies.

I must admit, though, that I have wondered about the following question: Do we have any idea how long the paint from paint pens will adhere to photos? We know that in some cases paint has come off onto plastic sleeves.

It seems to me that paint applied to a photo's surface is a coating, unlike ink applied to a porous surface such as paper where the ink seems to soak into the paper's fiber. I'd love to see how the adherence of each (Sharpie and paint pen) to photo paper works on a molecular level. Have we any chemists who could offer some perspective on this?

I also wonder if humidity has any affect on the length of time that a paint pen applied signature will retain its adherence.

So I guess as long as the paint from paint pen stays adhered to the photos, my collection will be in good shape.

I'd be interested to hear any additional perspectives on this.

leslie
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posted 10-26-2007 03:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for leslie   Click Here to Email leslie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My experience is that, as Al Bean always says, leave it four minutes to dry after signing before anything touches the signature, particularly gold or silver pen.

I have tried various methods of safe storage and decided that placing acid free tissue between each picture,checking every couple of weeks,and handle all prints with a pair of "dust gloves" is the best you can do! I always hear that these should be exhibited but those that I do display are in a room where the curtains are drawn during daylight. The bulk of my collection is in folders that stand upright (therefore no weight pressing down). Direct contact with plastic or card is to be avoided. I agree with Rob when he says always try to take your own paint pens if using silver or gold as there's nothing worse than a nice picture being ruined when one of the "guys" says, "OK, lets try this pen!"

I might add that my wife thinks I am insane and wishes I was as conscientious about the house maintenance as I am about my collection!

Hmm... that's a no brainer!

MCroft04
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posted 10-28-2007 06:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, I'm losing sleep over this issue. Here's what I think I've read. If I frame my autographed photo's they're subjected to light (and the signatures are in contact with the glass-not sure if this is a potential problem). Or store them in plastic non acidic sleeves, but the ink might stick to the sleeves. I also should not lay them flat; keep them vertical. So what to do? I've had my M-G-A autographed photo's framed and displayed on my study wall for 3-4 years now, with no apparent fading (granted there is not a lot of natural light in my study). But because I was worried about potential fading, I recently started making copies to frame and storing the originals in plastic non acidic sleeves. Seems there is no perfect solution, at least without spending big dollars.

wiltonw
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posted 12-06-2007 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wiltonw   Click Here to Email wiltonw     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In past experience with dye sublimation printers, I learned that vinyl sleeves are antagonistic to a number of things. Color photos can fade and photocopies can stick to vinyl page protectors!!! Those made from polyethylene are safe. That might explain the silver ink sticking on sleeves, as mentioned earlier.

mjanovec
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posted 12-06-2007 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree...cheap vinyl sleeves are the worst. They will lift ink off of nearly anything. A well-dried metallic ink signature should not stick to more stable plastics, like mylar.

bruce
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posted 12-07-2007 07:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MCroft04:
But because I was worried about potential fading, I recently started making copies to frame and storing the originals in plastic non acidic sleeves.

I also did this many years ago, because, like so many of us, I want to experience the joy of seeing the photos on the wall everyday and not just when I have the opportunity to pull out the ringed bidders.

One thing you might want to do is to add a small sticker on the back of each one of the copies that says something like "This photograph is a COPY of the original image contained in my ringed binder # ... The purpose of the copy is to protect the condition of the original signature(s) and the item." I think this helps cover a few bases down the road so there's no confusion over the images later.

DSeuss5490
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posted 12-07-2007 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DSeuss5490   Click Here to Email DSeuss5490     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most of the signed pictures I have bought from Novaspace signings were done in a metallic ink -- and are still A-OK. A past Bruce McCandless signing -- I think it was 2-3 years ago maybe -- I had three 11x14 photos signed and inscribed in thin black ink. None were displayed in sunlight and, unfortunately, all of the black ink is virtually gone or illegible at this point on all of the photos. Certainly disappointing, but a lesson learned as well.

MarylandSpace
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posted 01-06-2008 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a heads up, fellow collectors.

Staples has some Sharpies on sale this week, 5 for $1.

ejectr
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posted 01-06-2008 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's an awful lot of autographs...

eilisk
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posted 01-08-2008 08:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eilisk   Click Here to Email eilisk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As someone who's not owned signing pens, and is now thinking about getting some, I've read this thread with interest.

I was going to get a blue, black, silver and gold sharpie, but I was looking on cultpens.com website and I came across this pen - has anyone seen it before and can comment? What interested me was smudge and light proof aspects, but I hesitate as I'm just not sure how suitable it would be on photographic material, paper and the likes.

Here is the blurb from the website:

The edding 8404 Aerospace marker contains low-odour water-based pigment ink which is highly smudge-proof, water-resistant and lightproof

The low-corrosion formulation, resistant to many solvents and paints led to this pen being approved for aerospace use to ABP 9-3323 Class A. Bullet tip writes approx 0.75mm line. Black ink only.

Janncubsfan
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posted 01-10-2008 12:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Janncubsfan   Click Here to Email Janncubsfan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not an expert by any means, but we have a picture signed in gold by Gary Hudson it's about 15 years old. Anyway, it still looks perfect, but has remained in tube for entire time. We plan to frame it soon and I'll keep it well away from direct sunlight. Great thread and Great advice, Thanks All!

Rob Joyner
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posted 04-27-2008 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A little help needed here!

I have an Earthrise (ImpactPhotoGraphics) poster purchased at KSC. The black sky area is already signed by a few in silver, but I can't recall what pens were used.

Any chance anyone remember what silver pens were used last year at KSC by Cunningham, Schweickart, Gordon, Lovell and Worden?

Some are thinner in width than others and appear to be from different kinds of pens, Lovell's being the thinnest (paint?) and Gordon's being the widest (Sharpie?).

If a final verdict is in regarding silver ink I need a few of you pen gurus to list what you think is the best to use and how long it takes to dry. (quick drying is preferred).

capoetc
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posted 04-27-2008 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rob Joyner:
Any chance anyone remember what silver pens were used last year at KSC by Cunningham, Schweickart, Gordon, Lovell and Worden?
Seems to me they all had several different pens. I remember Dick Gordon was signing a lot of things in gold paint pen, if that helps.

Rob Sumowski
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posted 04-27-2008 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John is right. There were many variations in widths and brands used at KSC. I know some astronauts like Ed Mitchell brought their own markers from home. Lovell did use mostly thin (Ultra-fine) silver paint on the items he signed for me and others that I saw cross his table.

The thicker (Fine) signatures can be done with either sharpie or paint. In my experience, the difference is that silver Sharpie tends to dry to a silver-gray with a flat finish while silver paint tends to dry metallic silver with a bit of luster. My preference is silver paint pen.

I'd highly recommend the model Sakura Pen-Touch silver in either Ultra fine (for a thin line) or Fine point (for a medium width line). It's the only pen I use when given an option. Again, the Ultra-fine size will give you the thin shiny line (a la what I received from Lovell at KSC) and the Fine size will give you a wider paint line with the width comparable to that of the silver Sharpie.

I have found the Sakura Pen-Touch silver pens at Michael's Arts and Crafts stores or online anywhere. Regardless, always prep and prime the pen before using. Shake it well and test it until you get a good clean line before using. This should give you great results.

Rob Joyner
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posted 04-27-2008 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks guys!

Rob, out of the autographs I mentioned, the Lovell looks the best - thin & crisp. If this was done with the Sakura, how long will it take to dry before I can roll the poster up? I've heard to wait an hour before placing a photo in a plastic sleeve, but would it take this long for the poster to dry as well? At the KSC show I made sure not to roll it for over an hour, just to be safe, but under certain circumstances, I might not have an hour to do so.

Also, I read in a related thread that the Uni-Ball Gel pen tends to dry quickly, but I'm not familiar with the pen or how it looks on paper. Any extra help would be appreciated!

Rob Sumowski
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posted 04-27-2008 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I usually wait a day or so before putting any silver paint pen-signed photo in a sleeve; however it should be dry to the touch within five minutes (not that you'd want to touch it, of course).

Several years ago, I did try the Uni-Ball gel pen, found the ink satisfactory, however on some surfaces the metal ball put an indentation line right through the center of the signature line, making it look like two dual sigs. In this case I had sent a 16 x 20 photo to Walt with a request for a long inscription. Walt did the inscription well, but my pen handicapped his effort and it turned out looking pretty rough.

Ever since I have used the Sakura. They're expensive and I buy a lot of them (and most astronauts do not return them), but it seems to me to be a real quality pen.

mikeh
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posted 05-07-2008 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikeh   Click Here to Email mikeh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What ball-point would you recommend? Are certain brands/models longer lasting that others? I want to have Collins sign something at Nova to mate with a ball-point Armstrong signature. Thanks,

Rob Sumowski
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posted 05-07-2008 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good question, Mike. I've noticed that to my eye, most 1960s/1970s ball point signatures have held up pretty well over time- much better than the 1960s/1970s felt tip markers (look at all of those faded blue felt tipped Armstrong WSS lithos).

Among the most popular ball-point pens then (as far as I can remember) were the good ol' Bic ball point pens in the clear six- or eight-sided hard plastic shaft that we all used in school. Remember those? These are still available at any Staples or Office Depot.

For my taste, I like medium point because it puts more ink on the page in a thicker line than does the fine point. And I'd be sure that there is a good thick piece of paper beneath the area of the item to be signed (with both sitting atop a firm surface).

Any other ideas out there for ball point pens?

capoetc
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posted 05-08-2008 08:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I sent in my copy of Countdown for the Borman signing, and I asked for it to be signed in Sharpie. I got an e-mail back from Rob at Novaspace strongly suggesting that I use the Pilot-brand V-Ball roller pen — "because it is much less likely than a Sharpie to bleed through the paper, but gives a dark, opaque, very smooth line, unlike a ballpoint pen that tends to skip".

For what it's worth, I took his advice.

mjanovec
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posted 05-08-2008 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
I got an e-mail back from Rob at Novaspace strongly suggesting that I use the Pilot-brand V-Ball roller pen -- "because it is much less likely than a Sharpie to bleed through the paper, but gives a dark, opaque, very smooth line, unlike a ballpoint pen that tends to skip".

Rob knows his stuff. His attention to detail is second to none.

albatron
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posted 05-08-2008 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the pre planning stages for Spacefest, Rob and I discussed that pen. He is correct, it is an excellent choice.

Do not discount the ultra fine point sharpie with the plastic tip. It's a sharpie with a ball point style tip.

Not to be confused with the really fine point felt tip.

Before Rob introduced me to that pen, I always used the plastic tipped sharpie in books, and on covers. Never a smudge, bleed or anything.

In a pinch it can be used on photo's and if you want a thin ink, on lithos as well.

SPACEKID
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posted 05-29-2008 09:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SPACEKID   Click Here to Email SPACEKID     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone know what year the first marker type pens were used? Just wondered who may have the earliest marker signed astronaut picture.

CPCM
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posted 06-07-2008 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CPCM   Click Here to Email CPCM     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Metallic pens are great but since they do tend to sit above the image, anything heavy that sits on top of it, some of the ink can come off.

sixturners
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posted 12-21-2008 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sixturners   Click Here to Email sixturners     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am sending a great night launch photo to be signed and it is the first time I have ever sent a photo when a black or blue marker/sharpie won't work. Can some one advise me on the best silver pen or marker to use since I am not familiar with those types of pens or markers? I did purchase a silver sharpie if that is the way to go? I purchased the 25th anniversary STS-1 photo from the astronaut scholarship foundation which was signed in silver which looks great on a dark photo. Did anyone out there purchase the same photo and can you tell me what specific pen was used?

Rob Sumowski
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posted 12-22-2008 03:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If it was my photo, I'd use a Sakura Pen-touch Extra-fine point silver metallic paint pen. The result will be more reflective and metallic silver in appearance as opposed to a silver Sharpie, which to my eye tends to have a less reflective, silver-gray appearance.

sixturners
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posted 12-22-2008 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sixturners   Click Here to Email sixturners     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the advice. I was not feeling that good about the silver sharpie after a few tests on some junk photos. I pulled the 25th STS-1 photo I purchased from ASF and those signatures really looked good and permanent. Maybe those photos were signed with the pen you describe.

Thanks for the help!

Dennis Beatty
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posted 12-22-2008 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dennis Beatty   Click Here to Email Dennis Beatty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I looked up the Pen Touch pen mentioned above and found the following statement: "Pen-Touch are acid-free and permanent but are not archival which means the metallic pigment may fade over time". I wonder if this is true for all "permanent" inks. Perhaps my command of the language is limited... but what part of permanent am I missing?

mjanovec
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posted 12-23-2008 12:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Permanent" is a term used by pen makers to note that the ink cannot be washed off of surfaces using normal means...as opposed to erasable or temporary inks. In order words, it's not the kind of ink you want to give to a 2 year old child in a room with white carpeting.

The word "permanent" doesn't denote it's longevity against fading.

MrSpace86
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posted 12-23-2008 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I use the black industrial sharpies when autographing bright items (especially when it comes to footballs or basketballs that I get signed in person). They look at me weird when I insist for them to use my marker and not the typical one they have on hand.

As for silver and gold markers, I used paint markers (I cannot think of the brand right now) but Hobby Lobby is pretty good about having a good selection. Expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $12 for some good paint markers.

Silver sharpies are ok, but I try not to use those.

sixturners
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posted 12-23-2008 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sixturners   Click Here to Email sixturners     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do you think they used the Sakura Pen-touch silver paint pen on the STS-1 25th photo that is sold on the ASF website? I would sure like to get the pen that was used on that photo as it looks great and very long lasting on the STS-1 photo I purchased. I guess I could ask them what type of pen they use as that have quite a few dark photos signed in silver on their website.

Rob Sumowski
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posted 12-25-2008 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I took a look at that scan and it's really hard to say due to the size of the scan. I'm assuming you have some time to play with... Why don't you order that model and a couple of others on the net, try them on an expendable photo, and see what you think. Once viewed side by side, I'll bet you a nickel you'll never use a silver Sharpie again. Let us know how this turns out, my friend.

capoetc
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posted 12-26-2008 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
"Permanent" is a term used by pen makers to note that the ink cannot be washed off of surfaces using normal means ... The word "permanent" doesn't denote it's longevity against fading.

I'm guessing Neil Armstrong used a "permanent" pen when signing many lithos back in the 70's - 80's ... the ones that are now fading. :-(

sixturners
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posted 12-26-2008 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sixturners   Click Here to Email sixturners     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for helping me think this through. I will take your good advice since I do have the time to do some research before just sending the photo off to be signed. I will let you know how it turns out. I did email ASF and to my surprise a received a response on Christmas day. They must really work hard over there! They confirmed the 25th STS-1 photo was signed with a paint pen, but no mention of the make or model. I will get this figured out.

Dennis Beatty
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posted 12-26-2008 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dennis Beatty   Click Here to Email Dennis Beatty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Permanent" as used by the pen manufacturers seems to be disingenuous at best. It seems that they should use another term such as Long-Lasting", "Durable" or some other phrase which denotes somewhat limited longevity without misleading the common user.

capoetc
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posted 12-27-2008 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm curious what will happen over the next 50-100 years or longer with the autographs that have already started fading (specifically Armstrong on his WSS litho).

Will the writing completely disappear at some point? Or will it fade to a certain point and remain in that faded condition?

Of course, all of the above assumes that the litho is kept in a dark place...

Rob Sumowski
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posted 12-27-2008 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great question regarding long-term fading. That's why I will not have any blue Sharpie-signed items in my collection... too much risk for me, as I've seen way too many fade to nothing... even in six months time in a well-lit room. For example, six months ago I gave the fellow who occupies the office next to my department a pretty Apollo 16 "Young Leaps" photo with the long "Big Navy salute" inscription Duke penned in blue for me before I learned to request certain ink colors. I didn't tell him where to hang it or to keep his blinds closed because I didn't feel it was up to me to tell him what to do with a gift. You guessed it - I sat in his office last week, looked up at the photo, and almost every trace of the ink was gone.

Whenever possible I use silver paint pen. Sure there is some risk in every choice of of ink, but silver seems to last much, much longer that Sharpies. That's just my experience.

capoetc
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posted 12-27-2008 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting points, and I certainly understand your position regarding blue Sharpie-signed items.

I have many items signed in blue and black Sharpie, and so far so good. I don't risk any of them in direct light -- they are all stored in a special binder, ready for me to pull them off the shelf anytime I want to look at them.

My Armstrong WSS is looking kinda faded, but I'm pretty sure it was signed with a blue felt, non-Sharpie pen.

wmk
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posted 01-16-2009 07:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wmk   Click Here to Email wmk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was wondering if there is a prevailing opinion about the best type pens to use for signing beta cloth? Black sharpie, standard ball point pen, etc...?

I would normally try a sample to see what works best but I don't have any spare beta cloth lying around...

set
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posted 03-24-2009 11:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for set   Click Here to Email set     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What writing instrument do you recommend for signing beta cloth? I was thinking fine tip Sharpie, but wanted to solicit other thoughts.

Thanks for your help.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Spacefest
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posted 03-25-2009 12:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by set:
What writing instrument do you recommend for signing beta cloth?
Although it may not be practical it's best to have a spare beta cloth bit handy. Use a fine tip sharpie that's not new. New ones are generally too "wet" and bleed. A moderately used one will work fine, but it's best to test it on a scrap first.


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