Johann Starck (fl. 1762-1931)

The company J. Starck in Nuremberg, a family owned business spanning six successive generations, was Germany's oldest drawing instrument maker. It was founded by Johann Starck in 1762. Initially traditional German pattern drawing instruments were made. In the 1830s Johann Paulus Starck, at the suggestion of Zirkelschmied-meister Johann Georg Rupprecht, started fabricating high quality Swiss pattern instruments. Until the 1890s the Starck workshop produced solely Swiss pattern instruments. In 1894 Riefler round pattern instruments were added to the production line, followed by flat pattern instruments in the early 1900s. In the 1920s flat, round and Swiss pattern were produced. During the 1920s 60% of production was exported abroad. 

Reisszeugfabrik Meisel & Sohn (founded in 1882 by Johann Georg Meisel) acquired Starck in 1931. The company was registered by the founder's son Johann Christian Meisel as Meisel & Sohn in 1908. Unclear when successor Meisel & Sohn went out of business, possibly during the 1970s. Their last known recorded listing is in the 1968 edition of Kelly's Manufacturers and Merchants Directory.



1. Johann Starck I, becomes Zirkelschmiedmeister 18.02.1762.

2. Johann Starck II, becomes Zirkelschmiedmeister 21.11.1789. He marries Margaretha Philippina Mauer sometime during the 1790s. 

3. Johann Paulus Starck (*1796-†1843), becomes Zirkelschmied-meister 16.06.1816. He marries Maria Magdalena Lehner 05.09.1819. In 1829 he lived at S.1600 (Stelzengasse 12), a house that at the time belonged to Zirkelschmiedmeister Johann Karl Grünberger (*1799). The Nuremberg Adressbuch of 1842 has him living at S.1594 (Rosenthal 24), a house that remained the location of the Starck workshop until at least 1886. After his death in 1843, his widow runs the workshop until 1848. 

4. Johann Jacob Starck (*1823-†1905), his father apprentices him to Johann Georg Rupprecht, who at the time was Nuremberg's most distinguished Zirkelschmiedmeister. During the mid 1840s he is apprenticed to Johann Löffler in Vienna. He takes over his father's workshop in 1848.

5. Christian Starck (*1865), joins his father's workshop in 1897, becomes sole proprietor after his father's death in 1905.

6. Georg Starck, (*1902). Author of Die Entwicklung der Deutschen Reißzeugindustrie. 

Number of workers:

1850   4

1880   7

1890  10

1900  20

1910  40

1925  75

Fig. 1. Nuremberg plan of 1850 showing the location (Rosenthal 24) of the Starck workshop from about 1840 to 1890.

Special Plan der K. B. Stadt Nürnberg G. Ludwig Wenng 1850. [Gallica]

Fig.2. Above left: the Kaiserburg Imperial Castle, long time symbol of Nuremberg, was incorporated into Starck's company logo design.


Fig.3. Above right: after Meisel & Sohn acquired Starck in 1931, they adopted and modified Starck's logo. However, both companies continued to have separate listings (with the same address) in the directories until at least 1950 and therefore seems likely that Starck formed a separate entity within the Meisel company. It is unknown when the Meisel logo illustrated above went into effect, and it is probable that the Starck logo continued to be used on cases and instruments well after 1931.

Fig.4. Left: drawing instrument makers in Nuremberg in 1847. G. Rauh; Nürnberg und seine nächsten Umgebungen 1847. [Google Books]


Fig.5. Middle: drawing instrument manufacturers in Nuremberg in 1914. 

Kelly's Manufacturers and Merchants Directory 1914. [Internet Archive]


Fig.6. Right: the Bayerisches Landes Adressbuch of 1950/51 record a separate listing for J. Starck, with the same address as Meisel & Sohn. [GenWiki / Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online]

Fig. 7 to 10. Right: catalogue pages showing Starck flat pattern drawing instruments. Spitta & Leutz mail-order catalogue c. 1910.

Fig. 11. Above: 1902 DRGM patent 185110 flip up blade on their ruling pen to facilitate easy cleaning.

Der Mechaniker 1902, p. 252. [Internet Archive]

J. Starck XI.P. drawing set c. 1910



1. Stadtarchiv Nürnberg. Online-Recherche Bestände.


2. STARCK, Georg; Die Entwicklung der Deutschen Reißzeugindustrie, Universitätsverlag von Robert Noske in Borna-Leipzig, 1925.


3. DR. AUGUST JEGEL; Die Wirtschaftliche Entwicklung von Nürnberg-Fürth, Stein und des Nürnberger Raumes seit 1806. Verlag Lorenz Spindler 1952 Nürnberg.


4. Zirkelschmiedmeister=master (drawing) compass maker.


5. Allgemeines Intelligenz-Blatt der Stadt Nürnberg: 1827, p.1860-1861.


6. Nürnberg Adreßbuch 1886. [GenWiki]


7. Nürnberger Künstlerlexikon, Manfred H. Grieb München,K. G. Saur 2007.