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The Knipperdolling Mystery (Upd. the Little one!)

1914-durkopp-knipperdolling-1Normally we try not to write about stuff you can easily find on Wikipedia. But sometimes we just have to start a mystery with a bit of history: In 1867 Nikolaus Dürkopp started a company in Bielefeld, Germany producing industrial sewing machines and bicycles. From 1898 Dürkopp produced automobiles, which all were Dürkopp's but had names like Type KW 6/14 and DG 30/70. Apart from the very first ones these were large automobiles that sold in small numbers. In 1906 Dürkopp started a new make that was smaller and more successful. Instead of a type number this one had a name: "Knipperdolling". And here the mystery starts, why the name Knipperdolling? The only reference we could find was a Bernhard Knipperdolling (1495-1536) who was the German leader of the Münster Anabaptists and was publicly tortured and executed for his beliefs. Could Nikolaus Dürkopp have been a follower of that movement? But would he have named his automobile after a martyr? Or are we barking up the wrong tree and is there another explanation of the name Knipperdolling? Please enlighten us!
(image by Piet Olyslager, collection editor)


#4 grobmotorix 2014-10-26 02:17
I agree with the last comment, that a "knipperdolling" is a little person. There is an early 1908 Dürkopp ad that might reflect this meaning:
#3 2012-08-09 14:31
In a book bei Iris Hille 2 linguitic textbooks for dialects of the Rhineland and Westfalia are cited, that the word "Knipperdolling or Knipper Thulling" is a local dialect word for a little person, a little man, a manikin.

I think that this is the right base for the naming of the car, which is a real little car, a litte person, a Knipperdolling. It is definitely not related to the martyr Knipperdolling.
#2 2012-08-09 12:17
But the Knipperdolling - whatever the name's origin - startet as a K-model. The two smallest, 8/15 and 6/12 were known as Knipperdollings (maybe it was just a reference to the model K designation appearing instead of Kurt or Karl or some other boring German petname?). But I thought they appeared in 1908. The smaller K-series cars soon became KG 8 and KG 6 and in 1913 the KG 6 was replaced by "an improved Knipperdolling-Modell, EK 6" (according to von Fersen) "which was produced until 1920".
#1 2012-08-09 10:33
The questions about the Dürkopp Knipperdolling are not so easy to answer. The well known martyr Bernhard Knipperdolling surely was responsible to make his name a household phrase in the part of Germany which is called Westfalia. People used up to the 20th century the name synonymous for different things and persons, as for instance in the phrase: "Could you give to me the 17 Knipperdolling?" which meant a spanner of 17 millimetres width. On the other hand people were called "You are a real Knipperdolling" in case of strange behaviour. The famous late historian and story writer Fritz B. Busch published in the magazine "Motor Klassik" (Number 6 in 2007) two pages about the Knipperdolling car and the origins of it's name - but he failed as well to explain why Dürkopp used this name. Perhaps somebody from Bielefeld or Münster knows a little bit more.

Best regards,

Malte Jürgens

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