Blei-Kuli [Update]

Blei-Kuli [Update]
Ref. : 511
Production Date : 1950’s

Just when I publish a post regarding the Blei-Kuli, a friend of mine in Italy send me some amazing Rotring documents. It consist of a batch of old catalogs, brochures, price lists… from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. Some are truly splendid, typical from the late 1950’s / early 1960’s and among them I’ve found two pages about the Blei-Kuli. So here some more informations about the Blei-kuli and two beautiful images to share. I’ve also updated the reference number of the Blei-Kuli in my previous post, now that I can be affirmative.



Various Rotring Fountain pens

Various Rotring Fountain pens
Ref. : Various
Production Date : 1960’s to 1990’s

Fountain pens ! Fountain pens ! Fountain pens ! I’m frequently asked to showcase more Rotring fountain pens. The thing is, I’m not particularly into the writing stuff but much more into drawing / dratfing tools.

However, I know there is much more interest in fountain pens among collectors than in drawing items, so I’ve decided to showcase some of my Rotring fountain pens, at least the ones I’ve got at hand – others are stored in a remote location. My idea was to quickly publish a post that doesn’t ask me too much time in research, verifications, checking reference materials… and to showcase a maximum of pens in the shortest possible time. I deliberately avoid the 600 line, which is amply documented on the web and concentrate on more obscure pens.

So here is a collection of 13 Rotring fountain pens, vaguely classified by date, from the mid-1960’s to the 1990’s. I’ve acquired these pens mostly among bulk lot along the years. I have not named them nor add additional informations, but I’ve numbered the images, so if you want to have more infos about one specific pen, it will be more easy to identified.

Fountain Pen 1

Fountain Pen 2

Fountain Pen 3

Fountain Pen 4

Fountain Pen 5

Fountain Pen 6

Fountain Pen 7

Fountain Pen 8

Fountain Pen 9

Fountain Pen 10

Fountain Pen 11

Fountain Pen 12

Fountain Pen 13


Ref. : 511
Production Date : 1950’s

Blei Kuli Logo

I have recently acquired this so rare Rotting Blei-Kuli. Since then, I have only vaguely heard of this very early lead-holder. References are non-existent, it doesn’t appears in any of my documentation nor publicity, and only short mention of this pen surface on the internet. Needless to say I was quite happy to have a near-mint copy, complete with box and instruction.

The Blei-Kuli is (to my knowledge) the very first attempt made by Rotring with a fine lead-holder. In the 1950’s this was quite a rarity and design of that sort where a bit alien. It can be considered as the elder of the forthcoming Tikky line of the 1970’s. The design is largely based on the well established (at that time) line of Tikk-Kuli roller. I have made a picture of the Blei-Kuli side by side with a regular Tikk-Kuli, and the legacy is evident. It share the same elegant « streamline » design, typical of Rotring products of the mid-1950’s.

The main difference is that the black body is not a two pieces affair, but moulded as a single piece of plastic. The internal mechanism is of course completely different, made of full brass-metal (with has suffered from oxydation and discoloration in my copy), but the whole pen feels very sturdy and reliable. It still performs very well today. The lead diameter is another curiosity with absolutely non-standard 1,18mm diameter. Fortunately Rotring provide 10 spares mine and they were all present with my pen, which make me think that the pen was never used.

The Tikk-Kuli have a lot of different color available, my Blei-Kuli is full black, don’t known if it was also produced in other colors.

Sadly, there is no reference number to be found, but the small printer’s mark on the bottom of the notice suggest June 1956 (Gebae 6.56). If someone has more infos, photos, documents to hare about this pen, I will gladly talk to him…

I’ve included a full scan of the notice for documentation purpose as it is so rare, and here is below a rough English translation.

PS : « Blei » means « Lead » in English

– Pressure mechanics of the highest precision and durability
– New, highly elastic and resistant clip
– Gold-platted hardware
– 50 cm of normal mine – 10 x 1.18 mm diameter – in the container

Mechanics: A firm pressure with the thumb on the push button and with a clearly audible « click! »
The minimum require lead will start writing out of the tip
(Figure 1). The BLEI-KULI is now ready to write!

To move the mine back to its original position, press. Button as above, but keep it pressed down (Fig. 2) until you reach the handwriting with the other hand or on a firm support

Fig. 1
Back. Then release the push button. The BLEI-KULI is now back

In rest position!
Refill mine :
Every new LEAD-KULI
Leads 50 cm normal mines in its container (10 mines with 1.18 mm diameter and 5 cm length each). If this stock is exhausted, fill up the regular mines available by first pulling off the push button, pushing the mines into the container below, and reinserting the push button. After repeated actuation of the push button, the first spare mine will be pushed.
Repair : BLEIKULI need to be repaired or repacked by your dealer or send it directly to the manufacturer:

Blei Kuli 1

Blei Kuli 2

Blei Kuli 3

Blei Kuli 4

Blei Kuli 5

Blei Kuli 6

Blei Kuli 7

Blei Kuli 8

Blei Kuli 9

Blei Kuli 10

Blei Kuli 11

Blei Kuli 12

Blei Kuli 13

Blei Kuli 14

Blei Kuli 15

Blei Kuli 16


Rotring 700 Fountain pen prototypes

Rotring 700 Fountain pen prototypes
Ref. : No refs
Production Date : Mid 1990’s

From the same source who provide me the Rotring 600 Gold-platted prototype, I also acquired these four lovely Rotring 700 prototypes. The aim was to test some finishing and some texture for the grip area.

They are all standard Rotring 700, just missing the little « Rotring » logo and « 700 » text that is stamped at the base of the cap on the regular model. The R&D department tested various metal coating, the most obvious is of course the gold treatment, which is nicely and lightly executed on the grip area. It’s the only prototype that remain with the regular « square grid » on the grip area, the three others receiving a unique « rounded pattern ».

My contact doesn’t remember exactly why none of these pens pass the prototype tests, but he think that may be the sales figures of the 700 line were not high enough to justify mass production. Anyway, here’s 30 pictures of these quite scarce pens.

If, like me, you are a fan of these lovely 700 pens, you can check this previous post about the regular 700 line [here]

700 Prototype 1

700 Prototype 2

700 Prototype 3

700 Prototype 4

700 Prototype 5

700 Prototype 6

700 Prototype 7

700 Prototype 8

700 Prototype 9

Model I

700 Prototype 10

700 Prototype 11

700 Prototype 12

700 Prototype 13

700 Prototype 14

Model II

700 Prototype 15

700 Prototype 16

700 Prototype 17

700 Prototype 18

700 Prototype 19

Model III

700 Prototype 20

700 Prototype 21

700 Prototype 22

700 Prototype 23

700 Prototype 24

Model IV

700 Prototype 25

700 Prototype 26

700 Prototype 27

700 Prototype 28

700 Prototype 29

Rotring Technical Pens Rapidograph – Model A [1953] –

Rapidograph A-1

This post is the first one dealing with the original Rapidograph line (not to be confused with the 1980’s Rapidograph one). In 1953, Rotring launched on the market what can now be considered the true first « technical pen ». The rapidograph design rely heavily on it’s forerunner : the Tintenkuli. The purpose of this post is not to tell the history of the Tintenkuli pens which largely established Rotring’s reputation, just to say that a Rapidograph is an « improved » version of the Tintenkuli.

The aim of the Rapidograph was to provide draftsmen, architects, engineers and graphic artists a comprehensive line of pen with standardized nib size. It will be a long way to reach the perfectly standardized Din norm, but it was truly the first attempt. Rotring initially offers three differents size : N°1 – N°2 – N°3 which are equivalent to 0.25mm – 0.45mm – 0.80mm (see publicity ad below in this post). The model A was produced from 1953 to circa 1955, when a new 5 differents nib sizes line replaced it.

Except for the nib and pocket clip, the Rapidograph is an all hard plastic affair (bakelite ?), with piston-filling mechanism and removable nib. I won’t describe in detail the features and component of the pen : I have made a detailed « exploded » view of a typical Model A Rapidograph explaining all the specificities of the pen. I’ve tried to make these posts the more « visual looking » that I can, with close-up photos and captions without submerging you with my prose!

Rapidograph A-2

An important note about my classification system. I will sort the pens by : Model A – Model B… This is a strictly personal filling system. Rotring never used it, but I’ve been faced with the trouble of sorting and classifying all the design variations that a line pen encountered during his life, so I’ve ended up with this system, but remember that for Rotring, this system never existed and that whether it date from 1953 or 1977, a Rapidograph is a Rapidograph, period.

I will also try to provide as much original documents as I could (instruction sheet, publicity, catalog samples) to support my studies. For this first post I have just one true genuine box (the N°1) and can’t find the real original instruction sheet. I provide an original publicity and spare-parts list. Official documents are scarce for this one, but these pens are now more than 60 years old…

I will clearly show the variations beetwen each models in future post. Hope you will enjoy this series of post, and please, read the introduction I’ve made [here], and the disclaimer at the very end of this post, to have some clarification about the methods I’ve used to produce this body of work.

Rapidograph A-3

Rapidograph A-4

Rapidograph A-5

Rapidograph A-6

Rapidograph A-7

Rapidograph A-8

Rapidograph A-9

Rapidograph A-10

Rapidograph A-11

Rapidograph A-12

Rapidograph A-13

Rapidograph A-14

Rapidograph A-15

Rapidograph A-16

Rapidograph A-17

Rapidograph A-18

Rapidograph A-19

Rapidograph A-20

alte rotring Werbung

Rapidograph A-22 New



I’m responsible for any errors, omissions or mistakes that may appear in these posts. I’m not working for Rotring or any of his affiliates, so as the name of this blog implies, everything here is « unofficial ». However, I’m trying to be as rigorous as I can, and every information given here has been checked and verified as much as I can. Rotring history is not very documented on the Internet, and I think this is a story to be told. I will gladly accept any remarks or comments that can improve this essay. If you have any informations that you don’t find here, if you used to worked for Rotring, if you were a retailer, if you have documents to share I’ll be very happy to include your informations in this series of posts. Please do not hesitate to contact me, it’s easy to leave a comment and it can helps a lot!

All reproductions of instruction manuals, publicity, brochures, leaflets… are :

© Riepe-Werk Hamburg Altona / Rotring.

All other photos and designs are :

© Olivier Van Bellinghen and free to reproduce WITH my permission (so please, just ask!)

Rotring 600 Fountain pen – Gold-plated prototype

Rotring 600 Fountain pen – Gold-plated prototype
Ref. : No ref.
Production Date : 1990’s

This post will deal with one of the rarest item in my collection. I’m not very found of fountain-pen, I’m much more into technical pens, but I known this one will surely meet great interest among the 600 lovers. I have never seen another one like this and this is likely one of the rarest Rotring item at all.

This Gold-plated Rotring 600 Fountain pen is a prototype made by the Rotring R&D department during the 1990’s to test some new finishes on their 600 fountain pen. I acquired this pen years ago from a former R&D senior member who worked there for more than 30 years. This clearly established this pen as a true genuine Rotring product, and not a counterfeit item.

The pen in itself have nothing particular, this is clearly a standard 600 fountain pen with a medium nib. Every feature is regular 600 features. What made it truly exceptional is of course the unique gold-plated finishe. These pens where produced in very very low number (less than 10 probably – my contact is not sure) to check the opportunity to mass-produced them. My contact doesn’t told me why they were not eventually launched on the market, but the truth is that they remain as a prototype and are therefore extremely rare.

I also acquired 4 beautiful Rotring 700 prototype (still some finishes tests), that will be the subject of another post.

So here’s 20 detailed photos for all Rotring 600 aficionados, enjoy !


















Tintenkuli [Early Design]

Tintenkuli [Early Design]
Ref. : No ref.
Production Date : 1930

This post is a brief showcase of one of my rarest item. I don’t intend to go into a full-length history of the Tintenkuli here. It would requires much documentation (that I’m sometimes lacking), and a lot of time (that I’m always lacking). If you want to read a quality detailed study on the Tintenkuli, there’s a great body of work that you can found here

This Tintenkuli is a very early model, I don’t think it’s from the very first batch of Tintenkuli (some models didn’t even wear the name Tintekuli, and I guess these ones are the true first generation models), but I think this is a second generation pen dating from the early 1930’s
In 1920, Dr. Wilhelm Riepe brings back some stylographic pens from the USA and started produced his own version in Germany. In 1928, he founded the Tiku Handels GmbH Altona, which will became Rotring. You can see at the end of this post a reply coupon which bears the name and address of Tiku Handels. The two others scan are from the same brochure and are unequivocally precisely dated from the year 1930. However this brochure is a bit confusing because the pen pictured on the cover and the one inside are not exactly the same design (see the top of the cap). Plus the fact that the cap is always pictured positioned on the barrel so you can’t see the design of the lever filler mechanism, you ended-up with more questions than answers regarding the complete design of the early Tintenkulis.

The pen itself is made of very hard black rubber/plastic or maybe celluloid, I can’t tell. At this point there is no red ring anywhere, nor any mention of « Rot Ring », it is clearly branded as a Tintenkuli. The earlier Tintenkuli were not piston filled, instead a lever filler mechanism did the job. The lever need to be place in vertical position for filling the pen [see picture]. The nib mechanism show some features that would last for very long time in Rotring’s process, notably the screw thread and global design but overall is very different from even second generation Tintenkuli. The needle / needle support is quite unique I think. If you have more informations on early Tintenkuli, please share, because these pens are now nearly 90 years-old and solid documentation is quite hard to find.

Early Tintenkuli-1

Early Tintenkuli-2

Early Tintenkuli-3

Early Tintenkuli-4

Early Tintenkuli-5

Early Tintenkuli-6

Early Tintenkuli-7

Early Tintenkuli-8

Early Tintenkuli-9

Early Tintenkuli-10

Early Tintenkuli-11

Early Tintenkuli-12

Early Tintenkuli-13

Early Tintenkuli-14

Early Tintenkuli-15

Gold-Plated Pump Compass

Gold-Plated Pump Compass
Ref. : No ref. Promotional item but similar to 532 106
Production Date : 1970’s

Here’s an unusual Pump Compass from my collection. I’ve got this fully gold-plated compass from a former executive who’ve worked for Angalis, the French distributor of Rotring product’s. He told me that this item was a gift given only to major clients (not the usual street retailler), and therefore was quite scarce to find. He worked at Angalis from 1971 to 1979, so this compass have been produced during this lapse of time. I will publish a very interesting interview with him in a future post where he talks about his years working at Angalis.

You can see, in the last picture, a comparison between the gold-platted and the regular version [Ref. 532 106]. There is actually no difference between the two models. Except for the gold-plating treatment and a tiny red plastic ring added on the shaft this is clearly the same tooling.

Pump Compass 1Pump Compass 2

Pump Compass 3

Pump Compass 4

Pump Compass 5

Pump Compass 6

Pump Compass 7

Pump Compass 8

Pump Compass 9

Pump Compass 10

Pump Compass 11

Rotring 2000 Isograph Zeigestab

Rotring 2000 Isograph Zeigestab
Ref. : 931 200
Production Date : 1980

This unusual device has been produced by Rotring in 1980 among the Rotring 2000 Isograph line. At first sight, it looks like a classic 2000 Isograph, except for the blank color code on the nib holder and top cap. Even when opened it still look familiar, but when in hand it come surprisingly heavy.

« Zeigestab » can be roughly translate to « pointer ». « Zeiges » means « show it » or « to show ». The tip of the nib is mounted on a telescopic device, similar to the one used in old transistor radios, and can reach 430 mm when fully deployed. I guess this « pen » was destined to teachers, trainers and everyone who needs to point out something easily.

I pictured the back of the box for reference and because it feature one interesting indication about the ISO 128 norm, saying that this line of pens is « in preparation ». The Rotring 2000 Isograph line has been issued in 1980, precisely to conform to the ISO 128 norm, and thus expand the line thickness of the « regular » Rotring 2000 line. So I’m not sure what this indication really mean. May be the Zeigestab was issued a bit before the 2000 Isograph line. It’s also interesting to note that the serial number of the Zeigestab does not fit in the serial number system of the 2000 Isograph line (which is 151 XXX).

Rotring Zeigestab-1

Rotring Zeigestab-2

Rotring Zeigestab-3

Rotring Zeigestab-4

Rotring Zeigestab-5

Rotring Zeigestab-6

Rotring Zeigestab-7

Rotring Zeigestab-8

Rotring Zeigestab-9

Rotring Zeigestab-10

Rotating Display

Rotating Display
Ref. : No Ref. [Promotional Item]
Production Date : 1966 / 1967

I came upon this strange promotional item on the inmost depths of some German second hand stuff website. A small and blurry picture, a laconic description and a low talkative seller. In fact I didn’t know exactly what I was buying but the price was low so I decided to take a chance and grab the stuff. I received this so cool rotating display.

The item was clearly designed for retailler. It’s a plastic box, built with very thin (and quite fragile) sheet of plastic. It’s almost 40 cm height, so this is no small thing. There’s a little electrical motor hidden in the base, which rotate the disc inserted in the big protuberant red ring. This disk came blank so I can’t tell what was supposed to be displayed on it.

I have a very nice ad – dating from 1966 – that use exactly the same typeface that is used on the box. It’s a kind of ultra-condensed Helvetica. Rotring didn’t use this typeface much for his advertisements (I only have two of them) and they both date from 1966 / 1967, so I think it would match fairly well. That’s also why I tend to think this stuff date from this era.

The build quality is not very good and the device remain quite fragile. The axle was bent and I have to fix some electrical wires but the stuff was in decent condition. There’s no inscriptions to be found, even the motor as no electrical specifications or ref. number, so I can’t tell about the origin of this device. I think the motor base has been repaired / reinforced by a previous owner, because it look a bit « do it yourself »… Anyway, I was very very pleased when plugging the box, to see that it works perfectly!

Rotating Display 1

Rotating Display 2

Rotating Display 3

Rotating Display 4