For a time, I collected vintage stylographs, particularly ones made by rOtring, labeled as Tintenkuli.
Impressive collection! Do you happen to have found also the MP version of the “Kuli” variety, the so-called rOtring Blei-Kuli?
In your pictures I see many members of the family, including some delicious ballpoint pens, but I’m not sure I see a knock pencil in the bunch.
PS: I collect drafting supplies from the “golden era” of hand-drawn projects (1900’s-1980’s) because I’m in love with the idea of technical drawings made by humans with just their sheer ability, plus a crowd of ingenious aids of uncanny quality. So I try to gather as many templates, set squares, compass inserts, compass sets, normographs, and arcane analogue technologies as I can.
Alas, the variety of objects produced by the draughtsmen over the centuries is much bigger than that of MP’s, so mine is most certainly a lost cause, even though so far I managed to find an interesting sample of the things I originally intended to own, plus many weird add-ons I couldn’t even imagine (still) existed somewhere. The journey goes on…
I have a small coin collection, too, but I stopped adding many years ago. I found out recently that the value increase is near zero (mainly German commemorative coins) …
In school a friend of mine and me had a common collection of car pin needles (half of the class collected them, you got them at automotive fairs like IAA at Frankfurt). I don’t know where the collection is, but the collecting domain seems to be dead now and we don’t have lost a treasure
Thanks. It was built up over about a 5 year period. There were some marbleized celluloid models I’d wanted but never managed to snag… but for the most part, got a majority of the colorways. The only real vexing thing about doing this was the stylo tips. As you can see, they came in a variety of shapes, from sharp conical to ellipsoid. One would think they’d have standardized on a given screw thread setup, but I ended up encountering differences… and I don’t know if that was by purposeful changes or if in aging the plastic contracted on some models. It meant you could not swap stylo tips on some models. VERY frustrating! But in the end… these are so rare, that it would be rather foolish to use the rarer celluloid ones, so the stylo tip not functional isn’t as big a problem.
Yes, I was aware of the Blei-Kuli, but I didn’t strive very hard to collect those. I had one and the mechanism was faulty, unable to be fixed… so I just assumed that they’re mostly fragile and problematic to collect, versus the ballpoints.
Yes, the arena of drawing assist tools is fascinating. So many templates! Even ones for lettering and numbering in various fonts. The manual labor of creating worded graphics was a challenge for so many years. Computers have so greatly simplified it.
One thing that still has a “mystique” for me on these old stylographs is the thought of who might have used them. And what events in history they may have been utilized. In one case I learned about, a stylograph was assisted in helping to locate the family of a holocaust survivor. LINK
Hi Leonov, I managed to obtain a Blei Kuli on eBay back around 2018… It works well although there is some wear on the brass cone.
A bit too much, to be frank.
Pencils pushed me slightly into the “EDC” world, So i have plenty of multi tools, knives, flashlights. (thankfully not to the same expensive extent as mechanical pencils)
Pencils also pushed me into pens, so I have quite a few of those, pretty similar ‘collection level’ as pencils, frankly.
Sneaker head to some extent, though i stick to things that I know I will wear so that’s not too bad (maybe 10 pairs)
And most recently, Mechanical Keyboards, I have about 3 of those… typing this chat on my most recent purchase
So much to take in, OMG
I have only added ONE vintage Rapidograph Nr.3 which I have not dared to ink up yet. Got it mostly as a historical companion to the Blei Kuli and Tikk Kuli ballpoints… all with that thick red ring emblazoned with white engraved names.
“Normograph”? Or is that a typo for the nomograph (a type of visual analog calculator)? Nomographs are cool.
I have way too many LPs and a whole lot of jackets, many are Carhartts but not all.
Oh, and I have some Rapidographs myself.
Ok, this deserves a few words.
I did intend “normograph” in my reply, but I became aware soon after your post that this might be a linguistic interpolation (a made-up word, to be straightforward) rather than a real English term.
I know about nomographs, and I agree that they are really cool; they are a form of “fixed version” of a slide rule, but they offer the great advantage of allowing for more than two levels of interpolation. So far, my favourite nomographs are the ones coming with my Haff plastic ellipsographs, where I can pick two out of three measurements among major axis, minor axis, and projection angle/eccentricity of the ellipse, and the plot will provide the value for the third element swiftly and precisely, to set the system correctly and deliver every single time the perfect shape. Delightful.
In Italian, however, the word “normògrafo” (with an R), which I hurriedly translated as “normograph”, is used to denote those plastic lettering templates used once as drafting aids — think about Berol Rapidesign, or Pickett, or any other brand of drafting templates also offering lettering stencils — as it literally means “the object writing (gràphein in ancient Greek) in a standardised form (nòrmos, still Greek)”.
Also, a drafting template allowing the artist to draw basic geometric shapes is instead called “ortògrafo” — once again, literally meaning “the object drawing (gràphein in ancient Greek) things in the correct way (orthòs, still Greek)”. I recently discovered this word, and it made my day.
Over the years, I happened to find very unusual lettering templates, e.g. those mimicking Gothic blackletter (in two variants I think: classic Textura and rounder Fraktur) by Standardgraph, or templates for mathematical symbols, and even a couple for musical symbols (a famous one by Berol, and a much less-famous one by Linex Denmark).
I saved a few Norm font templates from my office (Din1541 font). But I prefer the digital version of fontfont
Found this website: https://musicprintinghistory.org/music-printing-stencils/
A lot easier today
Yes, a lot easier. There are a couple of videos on YT showing how music was typeset before the computer era, and they are mesmerising. The tools alone used to stamp the notes on metal sheets are uncanny.
And even when computers did finally arrive, typesetting music (and math) was still among the greatest challenges in typography — ultimately solved by Donald Knuth for math with LaTeX, and still threatening with nightmarish difficulty the music composition world today.
Yes, LaTeX closed the gap to scientific books set by hand. With music scores, today still the old handset pieces have a certain flair in comparison to state-of-the-art results from Sibelius or Dorico.
Glad I asked! Interesting, and thanks for the wide-ranging answer. I have a couple of drafting shape guides - I guess you could also call them templates? - but I can’t say I’ve used them much so far. And maybe one very basic lettering guide?
I first encountered nomographs in some electronics applications, based as you say on linear layouts, very much a companion to/simplification of a slide rule. The multidimensional ones on polar coordinates kind of blow my mind! I have a book that describes how to create nomographs, let me see if I can find it.
You had me at “book”. Should you find the reference, I’d appreciate very much if you could share it: I have a couple of sources on how to read nomographs — mostly reference books or leaflet-format guides, for slide rules, plus a couple of catalogue scans from drafting materials manufacturers which also happened to sell paper with unusual grid layout, nomograph-oriented.
But an entire book on how to make those… This is on a totally different level. Wow!
I don’t collect bottle openers, but I do like to collect objects of interesting and pleasing designs. The product company called Umbra has designed many kinds of products. Some utilitarian and others with artful flair. A friend of mine had one of their bottle openers, called the Wobble. It looks almost like a merging of a kid’s toy and a teething ring. A bit silly… at first. Until you hold it in your hands. It’s quite substantial, bottom weighted. And it opens bottle caps like a breeze.
Umbra had discontinued these about 10~15 years ago. A friend of mine has one in white. I’d been looking to get one over the years, but they’d seldom turn up. I discovered a buyer who is an OCD vintage bottle opener collector and they seemed insistent on nabbing one of every color, plus backups. Always getting to auctions first. Infuriating, like they have some special watch program. I even missed one BIN by just 10 minutes. Well, they finally slipped up and I got it for 50% cheaper than they’ve sold for in the past. I got it in green. It’s a very nice avocado kind of shade.
You’re not wrong - I was surprised to come across a book like this too. I think it’s in a bookcase that has some stuff blocking access to it - I will look for it tonight though.
OK. Success. There are actually three titles on that subject - “Nomography” by A. S. Levens, this edition 1948. “Elements of Nomography” by Raymond. D. Douglass and Douglas P. Adams, 1947. (I wonder if this is the Hitchhiker"s Guide guy Douglas Adams?!) Electronic Engineering Nomograms by Max H. Applebaum, 1968.
The two inside photos show a nomogram for solving quadratic equations and the ruler included in Douglass & Adams. Cool weird books. It looks like “Elements…” is at a much higher level than the others from a quick look through. D & A are both credited as MIT faculty and the book has an inscription showing the owner’s Cambridge MA address, so this is some heavy post-WW2 nerdfest material here!
If you have any requests for specific things you’d like to see scanned, send me a message and we can discuss.
First of all, thank you for searching for the books, and for providing the pictures!
I am truly fascinated by the “Elements of Nomography” specimen: from the few glimpses allowed by your shots, it seems very promising. The publisher is McGraw–Hill, top-level provider of scientific literature; the print quality is gorgeous; the content looks nothing but spectacular (I found pictures from the inside flap of the dust jacket, and the list of topics covered speaks for itself).
I’m afraid I’m going to buy a physical copy of the book online: the price range is even reasonable, but the shipping costs are killing my hopes to get a good deal. At the same time, this title is perfect for my library, so…
[Aaand once again this board proves to be a source of amazement, while simultaneously increasing the odds I’ll soon be very, very poor. ]
You guys should see my huge collection of unresolved traumas and personality flaws.
Edit: Been adding to it for many years.