Exhibit of the Month April 2017
Hand-held fire extinguisher "Spitztüte", 1926
In 1904 the entrepreneur Wilhelm Graaff (1872-1931) and the engineer Hans Mikorey patented a "hand-held chemical fire extinguisher with a handle on a portable container". Because of its pointed cone shape it quickly became known as a "Spitztüte" (cornet bag).
The fire extinguisher was marketed by Minimax, a company that had previously been founded in Berlin by Graaff in 1901, and quickly brought about a revolution in personal fire protection.
"A fire will soon be weak as a mouse, if Minimax is in the house""
The "Spitztüte" was conceived such that a novice would be able to operate it without any training:
The extinguisher was activated by simply striking it on the floor. That impact caused an interior glass cylinder filled with muriatic acid to break. The acid coming into contact with the extinguishing fluid produced carbon dioxide, which then led to a strong overpressure that squirted the extinguishing fluid through a nozzle for as far as twelve metres and as high as ten.
"Fire! Fire! A couple of whacks, twelve metres squirts the Minimax" was a corresponding marketing slogan from the pen of a real poet like Joachim Ringelnatz (1883-1934) who had been procured by the company for the advertising campaign and went on to author the legendary jingle "A fire will soon be weak as a mouse, if Minimax is in the house".
In addition to a broad-based marketing campaign, the Minimax company also launched an educational campaign on fire protection.
As a result, the "Spitztüte" quickly became a success:
375,000 units had already been sold by 1909. At that time, Minimax was being sold in 37 countries. The "Spitztüte" was produced until 1960 and had worldwide sales in the millions.