Seminar: Type casting

We visit Rainer Gerstenberg in Darmstadt - the last type founder in the world!

The invention of letterpress printing by Johannes Gutenberg in the middle of the 15th century was a historic milestone, because printing with single, movable letters revolutionised all written communication. The core of Gutenberg's idea was to cast type by means of a hand casting instrument, with which he could produce the necessary written material. Until the second half of the 19th century, Gutenberg and the type founders after him used such a hand casting instrument, in which a mould, the matrix, was clamped in place and poured with a lead alloy. The letters obtained from this could then be assembled into a single sentence.

The progress of industrialization in the 19th century soon also affected type casting and complex machines were invented, such as the complete casting machine, in which the letters were automatically freed of casting residues after casting. Monotype and Linotype were also milestones in the development of the type foundry. Casting machines, printing presses and other equipment have now found a home in museums. However, the original profession of type founder is almost extinct as museums do not provide training and the modernization and digitalization of printing plants means that there is hardly any demand on the market. This means that there is no new generation and the existence of the traditional craft is threatened by modernization and digitization. At present there is only one type founder in the world, Rainer Gerstenberg, who continues this important craft.

Against this background, the Gutenberg Society, together with Rainer Gerstenberg, is offering a seminar on type casting. Rainer Gerstenberg will bring us closer to the historical Gutenberg type casting system in his type foundry in the premises of the Hessian State Museum. We will learn how font casting works with a spoon as well as how commercial font casting works. 

Date: Saturday, 28.09.2019 (09.00-16.00)
Location: Hessisches Landesmuseum (Department of Type Casting, Typesetting and Printing)
Kirschenallee 88, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany
Organizer: International Gutenberg Society in Mainz e.V.
Admission: free

Please register by e-mail at or by telephone at 06131-226420.