The BIRKAN saga.

Episode 1: The realisation of a revolutionary idea (1914 - 1924)

Although rubber blankets were already being used in some print houses at the beginning of the 20th century, their use was cumbersome and expensive: they had to be cleaned by hand every day and quickly cracked due to contact with oil and ink. In addition, the printing blankets of the time, which were sometimes still made of nettle or moleskin, had to have sturdy fabric sewn to the front and back. This was also the case at the Munich daily newsaper “Neue Freie Volkszeitung”, where rotary printer Alois Kandlbinder had been employed since the age of 13.

In the meantime, he had become a master machinist and thought it was time to improve the situation. So he set himself the task of developing a usable, durable, easy-care rubber blanket for the cylinder of the rotary machine. It took several years before the result was ready: a rubber blanket with woven-on clamping lengths that gave the blanket and the entire cylinder packing a special operational reliability. A revolutionary invention that was to become established in many printing houses.

The first utility model was registered in 1914 and the first blankets were already in use – but then the First World War and the shortage of raw materials in the post-war period delayed further development. His friend Georg Seidel, also a printer and owner of a specialised graphics shop, now joined in. In 1922, the time had finally come: the “Triumph” printing blanket was registered as a patent.

After the severe hyperinflation of 1923, which had almost brought economic life in Germany to a standstill, the printing blanket could finally go into production. Metzeler Gummiwerke, a rubber factory based in Munich, was commissioned with the production. Now nothing stood in the way of Alois Kandlbinder's independence: together with a colleague from the Volkszeitung, Ferdinand Birkner, he founded the “Triumph blanket distribution Munich”. On 12 November 1924, this was entered in the commercial register as Birkner & Kandlbinder oHG.

Company founders at the Neue Freie Volkszeitung

The company founders, here still employees of the Neue Freie Volkszeitung, Munich: Ferdinand Birkner (presumably: 3rd row, far left) and Alois Kandlbinder (1st row, far right)

Advertising flyer from Volke and Seidel

Advertising by sales partner Volke and Seidel from the early 1920s (Georg Seidel himself had been involved in the development of the Triumph blanket).

Advertising for peace goods

A blanket was supposed to solve similar problems a hundred years ago as it does today. However, the emphasis on quality in tried and tested “peace goods” refers to the circumstances and conditions of the time.

Portrait Alois Kandlbinder

Alois Kandlbinder (1878 - 1951) had already founded a company to sell his rubber blanket "Triumph" as early as in 1914.

Printing house building

The publisher of the Neue Freie Volkszeitung was Julius Marchner, seen here in front of his printing works. The young lady is his niece Maria Marchner, later Mrs Kandlbinder.

Special edition 1886

The Neue Freie Volkszeitung also made the best of bad news... and thus left behind a historically significant document.

Original patent

The "Triumph" blanket had been protected by a patent since 1922

Instructions for use written by Kandlbinder

Detailed description and instructions for use were provided by Kandlbinder.

References for the Triumph rubber blanket

Renowned printers praised the blanket in 1920/1921

Werbeflyer Volke und Seidel

This flyer from the early 1920s emphasised the "greatest protection of the machines, trouble-free paper run and minimal waste"