Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rotring Tikky a short history

I am a long Rotring Tikky user and today I will share with you the beloved mechanical pencil.
I got my first Rotring mechanical pencil in middle school. If I am not mistaking it was a yellow second generation of Rotring Tikky. Unfortunately, I lost it sometime during high school. At some point, I had a red second generation Rotring Tikky but I can't remember it's faith. At the moment I have a black second generation Rotring Tikky 0.7 that I got in high school and used throughout the university, 2 Rotring Tikky's third generation one 0.5 and one 0.7 mm. One of my big regrets is that I do not have a Tikky Special first generation.
I only owned and used Rotring during the school years. The exception to this was my first mechanical pencil, a plastic no-name followed by a Bic. Both of them I had in the early years of school when I think my parents didn't trust me with a precision instrument :)
Both of my parents are engineers and both were using Rotring for many years as it was pretty much the standard in the industry. Why everyone was using them is pretty clear. They are affordable, of good quality, a precise instrument that will last a very long time, and they are readily available. They come in all sizes 0.35 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 1.0 mm. And also, I do not think that the market back then didn't have such a plethora of mechanical pencils to choose from.
At least here (Romania), if you will go into a  stationary shop it is almost certain they have Rotring Tikky mechanical pencils. In the last years, the Faber Castell has been a lot more aggressive and is starting to dominate the shelves of the stores. So maybe the new generations will grow with Faber Castell instead of the Tikky.
In the next lines, I will try sharing with you the information I have managed to gather about the Rotring Tikky mechanical pencils starting from the first generation up to the last.

The history behind the Rotring Tikky mechanical and the information about the models and their characteristics.

In 1979 the Rotring Tikky mechanical pencil debuts
In 1997 the second generation of Tikky hits the market
In 2008 the third generation of Tikky was available to the customers.

A nice graphical presentation of the Rotring history can be found on their site at the following link:

Rotring Tikky I

The first generation of Rotring Tikky was produced in West Germany and in Germany after 1989. It featured a metal drafting fixed point a slim body with a waved grip section. The barrel was made out of plastic or metal and it was available in different colors. It had a sturdy clip which was made out of metal and on it was stamped "Rotring" and "W. Germany" until 1989 and with "Rotring" and "Germany" after. The cap was metallic and was hiding the eraser. Only present in the Tikky Special, the eraser also had a pin in it to unclog the pencil if the lead would jam in it. The next models do not have this feature anymore. The mechanism inside was made out of brass and could be taken out of the pencil.
Rotring came out with several models of the Tikky right at the beginning, and there were a few variants between labeling them. For example, not all Rotring Tikky first generation came with a red ring and others had the name rOtring written in red instead of the red ring. Some of the pencils featured an endcap that had on the tip of it standard color coding for the size of the lead. The barrel came in all sorts of colors, even crazy psychedelic paints.
With the first generation, Rotring seemed to use the size 0.3 mm and 0.9 mm instead of 0.35 mm and 1.0 mm nowadays.
Rotring introduced the Trio Pen which later became the Tikky 3 in 1. The first reference I found about the Trio pen was in a 1990 German product catalog but I think the model appeared sooner. Also alongside with the first Tikky mechanical pencil Rotring brought to the market the Tikky ballpoint.
The birth of one of the most beloved mechanical pencils took place 10 years before the launch of the Rotring 500/600 (1989) Series and 14 years before Rotring 800 (1993).
The Tikky I inspired Rotring to transfer the good features to the metal series 400 of mechanical pencils, pens, and fountain pens. This line was later marketed as Esprit.

The versions of the Tikky were:
Tikky Special
rotring T (sliding sleeve from 5 mm to 3.5 mm in early models, fixed sleeve later on)
rotring TS slide (half sliding sleeve - I think is the successor of the rotring T)
rotring Fineliner F or just rotring F (fixed 4 mm sleeve)
Tikky Automatic and rotring Automatic LS (auto advance of lead, LS stands for locking system)
Tikky Double Push (plastic and metallic versions - both these versions had a secondary push button on the barrel)
rotring S (plastic and metallic versions, 3 mm to 0 mm sliding sleeve)

The differences between the models:
Tikky Special - Plastic design with a fixed sleeve. It came in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm. Some of the Tikky Special did not have a red ring while others had. There was a white version of the Tikky special which had all sizes available 0.3 mm 0.5 mm 0.7 mm 0.9 mm. The writing and the ring on these were color-coded to the lead size.
yellow for 0.3 mm
brown for 0.5 mm
blue for 0.7 mm
orange for 0.9 mm

rOtring T - "Mechanical pencil with fine lead T for technical drawings, before ink lining
Through the technical precision of the pencil rOtring T a long existing problem has been answered: making a neat drawing using a ruler and a template. The tubular lead guide retracts from 5 mm to 3.5 mm (the thickness of a ruler). rotring T is delivered in 3 lead sizes 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, each model comes with HB polymer lead. The pencils container comes with 6 leads for backup."
The main feature of the T model is the partially retractable sleeve which was I think a safety mechanism for when using a ruler and also it gave the possibility to have maybe more control. The end cap had a size color coding.
The 1.5 mm retracting sleeve feature was abandoned as in the Rotring 1990 catalog the model rOtring T is marketed as a fixed sleeve.

rOtring TS slide - in the Rotring 1990 catalog, the rOtring TS slide is marketed as a half sliding sleeve. This I think is the successor of the model T which at this point became a fixed sleeve.

rOtring F - "Mechanical pencil with fine lead F for writing and sketching.
This pencil is equipped with a rigid tubular lead guide with a length of 4 mm which avoids lead brakes and offers a precision execution when using a ruler. rotring F is equipped with polymer lead size 0.5 mm HB. The pencils container comes with 3 leads for backup."
So the F model was available only in 0.5 mm.

Tikky Automatic LS - Metall mechanical pencil with fully automatic lead feed, comes in 0.5 mm. The lead automatically advances during use while the "LS" locking system prevents undesirable lead feed (when carrying in a pocket for example)

Tikky Automatic - Plastic version of the previous model, with fully automatic lead feed, comes in 0.5 mm. Does not feature the locking system. This model of the rOtring Tikky  was first introduced in the 1988 Catalog

Tikky Double Push - Comes in a plastic and a metal version. It features a fixed sleeve protector and fully retractable feed mechanism. The main feature is a secondary side button to advance the lead. The metallic version of the double push sometime later changed series and became the Rotring 400 Esprit. Later the 400 was discarded and the line name remained Esprit. Rotring offered in the Esprit range fountain pen, ballpoint, mechanical pencil. The Esprit range offered a duo-pen (blue ballpoint and a 0.5 mechanical pencil in one body). There was a mini rotring Esprit line as well that included the mechanical pencil and the ballpoint. The Esprit mechanical pencil also came with a "telescopic" mechanism (available for the mini and the full version length)
The pencil was only available in 0.5 and 0.7 mm lead.

rOtring S - "Mechanical pencil with fine lead S for writing and neat sketching.
The tubular lead guide retracts with 3 mm in sync with the use of the lead. This way an optimal efficiency of the lead as well as a maximum safety against lead snaps. rotring S is equipped with polymer lead 0.5 mm, hardness HB. The pencil's container comes with 6 leads for backup."
So the S model features a 3 mm sliding sleeve. The body of the pencil comes in plastic or metal. The end cap had a size color coding.
The yellowish color is "safari green"

(click on the images to enlarge)
rotring Tikky
rOtring T / rOtring F / rOtring S (1980) Rotring product catalog (Romania)

rotring TS slide, rotring T, 1990 catalog

Rotring 1990 catalog

Tikky metallic, double push and automatic, catalog 1990

Tikky Special catalog 1990

Trio Pen (precursor of Tikky 3 in 1)

Automatic & Double Push leaflet rOtring Catalogue 1990

rOtring leads

rotring tikky automatic 1988
Tikky Automatic debut in 1988 Rotring Catalog

rotring Tikky 1
rOtring T
rotring 1 tikky f
rOtring Fineliner F
rOtring clip W.Germany before 89
Tikky Special
Tikky Special without red ring

 Metallic Double Push Tikky

rOtring F Fineliner

Mechanical pencil museum Rotring 400 Esprit)

Mechanical pencil museum Rotring 400 Esprit)

Mechanical pencil museum Rotring 400 Esprit)
rOtring Special and box
rOtring TS slide

rOtring T brass mechanism
Tikky Special multiple colors

 Tikky Automatic

 rOtring Special without red ring

Metallic Double Push Tikky



Rotring Tikky II

The Second Tikky suffered a few changes. First, it gained a little bit of weight. It became a little bit fatter. Second, the clip style changed. It is a less secure one, but esthetically looks nice. The clip is not stamped with anything which is a shame. Where the clip meets the barrel it is cast in plastic with a very small font "Made in Germany". The rest of the writing on the pencil is paint. The barrel is plastic. The Tikky II weighs 10 grams.

The Rotring Tikky II came in 2 variants
rOtring Tikky II - which had markings on the pencil "rOtring Tikky II 0.5" or  "rOtring T 0.5". This is the most common version of the Tikky 2. It came in a variety of colors including metallic and transparent barrels.
The metallic colors were part of the INLINE series and offered options like pearl blue, pearl violet, pearl red, pearl yellow.
The branding rOtring T was present only on the burgundy version of the Tikky II and included ISO color coding. The rOtring Tikky II came with and without color coding on the barrel.

rOtring Tikky SC - features a retractable tip and a rubberized grip. This one is less common and less accessible. The SC stands for Super Comfort.

(click on the images to enlarge)

rOtring T branding

rOtring Tikky SC
rOtring Tikky SC

Made in Germany marking

rOtring Tikky II 4C Tone 2007 Back to school Catalog

rOtring Catalog 2004 Pens and Pencils, IN LINE pearl colors (metallic)

Rotring Tikky III

The third generation named just Rotring Tikky is a reincarnation of the Tikky line after Rotring was bought by Standford. The pencil is also sold under the name "Papermate Tikky by Rotring" or just "Papermate Precision" version which does lack the traditional red ring.
The third generation of Tikky debut in 2008 and is produced in China while the previous two were made in Germany. The biggest difference to the previous version is a partial rubberized grip (although the rOtring Tikky II SC featured a rubber grip, it had a different form), and the end of the barrel is triangular, making it less likely to roll off the table. The barrel is made out of ABS and the front cap is made out of stainless steel which has a constant slope as opposed to previous versions which had a step. The quality of this part I think is inferior compared to the quality found on Tikky II.
The clip style changed and now offers a look closer to the original Tikky clip, and it has stamped the rOtring name on it. The writing on the barrel changed to simply "rOtring Tikky 0.5", instead of numbering the generation with III. The cap has a hole at the top as a safety feature for children. It weighs 12 grams, 2 grams more than the second version and measures 142 mm in length from tip to cap and it has a diameter of 9 mm around the grip area.
Currently, the Rotring Tikky is offered in 23 colors, the latest colors included in the range are neon. Only the black and the burgundy models come with size color coding on the barrel and come in all lead sizes from 0.35 mm to 1.0 mm. They are marketed as Tikky professional mechanical pencils.
The classic Rotring colors like blue standard, white standard, yellow standard, red standard, black (version without the color coding) come in 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 1.0 mm while the rest of the bunch come only in 0.5 or 0.7 mm.

(click on the images to enlarge)

rotring 2017 colors
2017 new colors

rotring 2017 colors
2017 new colors

rotring 4c colors
2013 4C colors

rotring tikky 2015 colors
2015 new colors

rotring neon
2017 neon colors

rotring tikky
Tikky professionals

Papermate Tikky by rOtring

Papermate precision

Aprl 30, 2019 - Additional information about Tikky I, and Esprit
March 7, 2019 - Credits added
October 9, 2018 - Small updates, no extra information about Tikky line added
25/3/2018 - Tikky Automatic debut in 1998 (pic), 
more information on Tikky Double Push metallic which became Rotring 400 Esprit, and then just Esprit (pictures)
Pictures of the pearl (metallic) Tikky II In Line added

Resources, extra information
Rotring catalogs
Rotring website
Pictures from sales site's like eBay and others alike
Particle Navigator
Mechanical Pencil Museum
Golyostoll (in Hungarian - if you need help google translate)
Pretty Splendid (beautiful Rotring Tikky 1 & 2 collection)
Kelvin Pang

A very nice history about Rotring products can be found at Unofficial Rotring

Contributions to the information presented are welcomed.


  1. Thank you for this great blog post.

  2. Thank you very much Matthias for the appreciation.

  3. Thanks. Some Tikky 1 - marbled color versatils don't have any "Tikky 0.5/0.7" label except on their clips however someother same color Tikky 1 models have. Is those without label Tikky 1s fake ones or just an exceptional product line?

  4. There were so many ways of branding the Tikky, and I only scratched the surface in terms of data I could find on it in official catalogs. So offering a definite answer is hard.

    I can not say if the mechanical pencils you saw are fakes or not, it would be interesting to see the mechanism inside of the pencil, and I think this should offer more answers than the barrel print. Tikky 1 has brass mechanism that can be detached from the pencil (you can see it in one of the pictures)
    Another thing that is the rule in the Tikky line is the pour paint used, which comes off with ware. I have a Tikky II with no red ring and no writing on it. All of it came of from carrying it around and writing with it. Taking into account that the Tikky 1 is at least 21 years old years (and possible more, if it is not a old new stock) even with light use in all this years it would be no surprise to me that the writing from the barrel just vanished over time.

  5. Excellent research. That's my shot of the 10 transparent Tikky IIs by the way :-)

  6. Thank you Kelvin. I envy you for such a nice rOtring Tikky collection.
    Do you have other Tikkys in your collection?

  7. Great blog. I may be able to help you with the Tikky Special. Years ago, we bought the stock of the closed Turkish Distributor for Sanford. We are still discovering some of the products - selling as Pilotfishpens on ebay. We have some Tikky special 0.5 white. Let me know if you want one in appreciation of the work you put into this.

  8. Thank you. That is very generous of you.

  9. Thanks for the lovely research and article!
    If you can give me an email to contact you on, I think I can help you resolve your "biggest regret" :)

  10. you can contact me with the contact form at the bottom of the right panel, or directly at

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  14. Thanks! Very useful info. I have an never used first gen Rotring T 0.5 in my collection and I love it. Even its original leads are still inside it. But the lead tube is plastic unlike the image that shows the brass mechanism and u can see the tube is metal, it has a red ring unlike 1990 catalog, the eraser has a unclog pin despite it's not the special version. There only "Rotring T 0.5" is written on the body and "Rotring Germany" on the clip. I wonder what version is this! I don't think it's fake, don't tell me it is :-( you can see the images below:

  15. I will start by saying that I am not an expert in the field, I am just a guy who is passionate about mechanical pencils, rotring's and I did a little bit of research.
    That said i will continue..
    The first generation of Tikkys had a 19 year run. In this time Rotring has released a lot of versions of the pencil.
    The first launch of the pencil had a brass interior barrel no doubt about it. But I would not be surprised if at some point in time (like the '90) they decided to optimize cost and replace some parts with plastic. So I can not say if it is an original or not. The pencil looks good in rest so probably it is an original one.

    unfortunately I didn't find all the Rotring catalogs for between 1979 and 1997, so it is hard to say when it was produced.
    In the picture [img][/img]
    there is a Rotring that looks just like yours, with the red ring and T 0.5 written on the side.

    My mother recollects that she broke her brand new Rotring T at first use. She opened the entire pencil up to check if it was an original. Even back then this was a concern. It was said that there were fake Rotring mechanical pencils which had plastic interior. How much was a myth and how much a reality I do not know.
    The mechanical pencil was released by Rotring at the time my mother was in collage. She bought one with the help of a colleague who's dad smuggled it in the country (at that time the communist regime had the borders closed).

    It is a very nice pencil you have there, enjoy it!

    PS It would be great if people who bought back in the day an original Rotring Tikky could check the interior and post some pictures, along with maybe an approximate year when they have purchased the pencil.
    In this way we could have more information about the Rotrings that are sold on ebay and sites alike.

  16. Thenk you very much for answering and the information. It's really interesting about the fake Rotrings story back then. Rotring Tikky has never been an very expensive pencil worth making fakes. Of course no wonder if they make fake ones these days. They make fake of anything you think about in China. Specially something like this pencil thah its original is not something that you see every day! But back then... I donno!!
    I remember I bought if from an old guy running his old, small and dirty stationery shop, claiming that he has them in the storage for more than 20 years. So even if it's fake, it is one of the same mysterious fakes that your mother was worried about! A vintage fake :-D
    Maybe I go there and buy another one if he still have them. If I go, I'll take picture from the boxes to share with you.

    And yes it would be good if anybody has experience with these pencils, shares with us.

    Thanks again.

  17. I would love to see those pictures from that small and dirty stationery shop :)

  18. I've just recently obtained 4 Tikky III through a friend in Turkey. These are pastel coloured with light-grey grips, and according to online listings, they are also part of the 4C line. Colour names vary according to market:
    - Aqua
    - Apricot
    - Lime Green
    - Lavender

    Have not been able to determine their launch date... Google says the earliest mention of 4C Aqua is 2010, but that would precede the first mention of the 4C line in 2013 catalogue.

    1. Hello Kelvin, nice purchase!
      I have looked over the Rotring catalogues and couldn't find the mentioned colors. In 2009-2012 the catalog was listing only black and burgundy with color coded barrel and the black, red, blue, white, yellow with no color coding.
      Of course this doesn't mean the colors were not launched in certain markets, and there is a chance of google being right. It would be interesting though to find some official Rotring data about them.

  19. Thanks. I didn't know my two white Tikky Special pencils, one 0.3mm and one 0.5mm were now unique. The yellow writing on the 0.3 is still partly visible. They are marked, Rotring W. Germany on the clips. I bought them both in the late 1970's I think, and still use them almost daily.

  20. I am happy to hear that your Tikkys are still going strong after all these years. They are great pencils. I am curious, do you remember what you paid for them at that time?

  21. I don't remember, but it couldn't have been much even by 1970's prices. I had been a poor grad student with a family until 1975 and it took until the mid 1980's to feel comfortable spending money on anything not directly family related.


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