Last updated
FormerlyTintenkuli Handels GmbH (1928)
Type Private (1928–98)
Subsidiary (1998–)
Industry Stationery
Founded1928;94 years ago (1928)
Headquarters Hamburg, Germany (closed)
Area served
Products Technical pens, fountain pens, mechanical pencils, inks
Owner Newell Brands [1]
Parent Sanford L.P. [2]

Rotring (stylized rOtring) is a former German manufacturing company of technical drawing tools and writing implements. Established in 1928 as a fountain pen manufacturer, Rotring is currently a brand owned by Newell Brands after its acquisition in 1998. [3] [1] The name "Rotring" directly translates to "red ring" which is still placed around the barrel of their pens today. The company's name was changed to Rotring in the early 1970s to match the trademark.


As the Rotring factory and headquarters in Hamburg were shut down, production has been handled and distributed by Japanese manufacturer Holbein and other manufacturers. [4]


Rotring mechanical pencils Rotring pens.jpg
Rotring mechanical pencils

The company was established in 1928 as "Tintenkuli Handels GmbH". [2] The company's first product was the "Tintenkuli", a type of pen with a narrow steel tube instead of a conventional nib. While fountain pens were already common in America, they had not been previously marketed in Europe.

In 1934, Rotring launched the "Multipen", a mechanical pencil that allowed the variation of colors, with four of them contained on each pencil. Although stylographs never overtook fountain pens for use in writing, by 1953 the Rotring "Rapidograph" model became the prototypical technical pen of its age, establishing the Rapidograph Inc. in the United States one year later. Its technology virtually replaced the ruling pen and greatly simplified technical drawing. [2]

A second generation of technical pens, the "Variant" and "Varioscript" models, were launched in 1958, with commercial success. In 1967, the company introduced its first drawing set, that consisted of compass, technical pens, templates, inks, scale ruler and other tools. One year later, the "Micronorm" was added to the technical pens line. In 1971, Rotring acquired writing instrument manufacturer Adolf Waldmann KG of Pforzheim. [2]

Rotring expanded operation establishing branches in Europe and the United States, in 1974. The "Isograph" technical pen was launched in 1976. That same year Rotring launched its first drawing board, and the "Tikky" mechanical pencil was released in 1979. The "Art Pen", a fountain pen suitable for calligraphy, was launched in 1984. During the decade, Rotring set new subsidiaries in other European countries, while the "600" mechanical pencil was introduced in 1989. New releases came in 1995 with the "Xonox", a variation of the Tikky model in form of a marker pen with a needlepoint tip. [2]

The advent in the 1990s of computer-aided design (CAD) saw the partial demise of the technical drawing pen. To combat this, Rotring diversified its range of graphic pens, pencils and markers.

In 1998 Rotring was taken over by Sanford, an American company specialising in graphic products and part of Newell Rubbermaid (currently, Newell Brands) since 1992. [5]

During the first decade of the 2000s Rotring released some lines of fountain and ballpoint pens, the "Skynn" (2003) and the "Newton" (2005). In 2014, the brand introduced the "800+", a hybrid mechanical pencil that could be used on both mediums, paper and touchscreens. It was advertised with the slogan "Think on paper + Think on digital". [2] [6] The Rotring 600 ballpoint pen was re-introduced in 2018 alongside the Rotring 800 ballpoint, which was the re-release of the 600 Gold ballpoint pen. [7]


Rotring Rapidograph 0.35mm Technical Pen.svg
Rotring Isograph 0.35 mm Technical Pen.svg
Rotring "Rapidograph" (above) and "Isograph" (below), 0.35mm technical pens models
BrandRange of Products
Rapidograph, Isograph Technical pens, refill inks
Art Pen Calligraphy fountain pens, refill inks
Rapid Pro Mechanical pencils, leads
300, 400, 500, 600, 800, 800+Drafting mechanical pencils
600, 800 Ballpoint Pens
Tikky Ballpoint pens, markers, mechanical pencils, leads, refills, erasers
Precision Compasses, geometry squares, lettering and circle stencils, protractors, rulers
Original packaging for the Rotring Rapidograph F and Rapidograph J pens. Rapidograph Boxes.jpg
Original packaging for the Rotring Rapidograph F and Rapidograph J pens.

Rapidograph and Isograph

Rotring's Rapidograph and Isograph are visually very similar. The primary difference between these models is the ink reservoir. Whereas the Isograph has a refillable reservoir, the Rapidograph can be loaded with disposable capillary ink cartridges (which are themselves capable of being refilled).

The Rapidograph nibs were manufactured in several versions:

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  1. 1 2 Rotring on Newell Brands website
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Heritage on Rotring website, 25 Nov 2019
  3. Rotring Trademark, serial #73689855
  4. Rotring on Holbein Japan
  5. "Newell Rubbermaid history" (PDF). Newell Rubbermaid. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  6. The rOtring 800 Series Could Change the Future of Paper by Mitchell Sunderland on, May 17, 2014
  7. "Rotring 600 Ballpoint". Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  8. Rapidograph original box.
  9. Rapidograph F original box.
  10. Rapidograph J original box.