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


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!)


8 réflexions sur “Rotring Technical Pens Rapidograph – Model A [1953] –

  1. As a fellow Rotring fan, I am enjoying your blog very much! I have a small collection of both Rapidograph and Tintenkuli. I don’t know if I agree that one is an improved version of the other. The Tintenkuli needle had a rounded tip, and the end of the tube was beveled: this made it easier to write with, but line width was no precise. The Rapidograph had square cut tube and needle for much more precise line width, but it wasn’t so much fun for writing. So, really they were two different instruments fur two different purposes.

    I hope that one day you will discuss the Variant pens? I look forward to all your future posts.


    • Hello Pentermezzo
      Thanks for your interest in my blog. Yes I agree with you I didn’t choose my words very wisely. The Rapidograph is not an « improved » vesion of the Tintenkuli. I think I should have said « modified ». It was improved for drafting with much more consistent and regular line, but for writing purpose it was clearly muss less adequate ! The Variant will of course be exposed in details, but I choose to present the pen in chronological order, so I need to finish the 7 seven remaining version of the Rapidograph before…

      Aimé par 1 personne

  2. Very interesting to see this. I have a Rapidograph nr.1 with box, it has an original English instruction leaflet which mentions a Rapidograph no. 0 « extra fine » making four pens in the range! This pen apparently does not have the size indicator on the end of the cap. I have a restored scan of this leaflet (it was in poor shape) if you are interested.


    • Hi PL
      Thanks for your interest in my blog. Yes, I’m greatly interested by your scan and any pictures you can provide regarding this pen. I have a Spanish publicity with 4 Rapidograph pen line, but it’s the only document regarding this elusive 4 pens line I have found. May be the were restricted to export sales as I cannot find any German document with 4 pens only. If you can send pictures it would be of great help!
      Best Regards


      • Hi PL
        Thanks for the scans. The notice corresponds to my Spanish ad, the descriptions of the 4 pens match perfectly. There’s a couple of interesting infos at the bottom of the back side : Gebea is the name of the printer, 11 55 refers to November 1955, and 7501 is the code for English notices (German are coded 7000). I have English notices coded 7501 B and 7501 C, which could tell that the one one you have is the first that were imported to UK! Very interesting document indeed. If you have time to take some pictures of the pen itself it would be great
        Thanks again for your support


      • The pen I have is the Nr.1, exactly the same as in your photo – I don’t have the Nr.0 unfortunately! The box is the same as well. The info you got from the leaflet is interesting, I guessed the numbers referred to the publication date but I wasn’t sure.


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