HISTORICAL PRINTER ROOM
The Cranach Court in Schlossstraße 1 is home to a treasure from the past - a historic printer's room operated by Andreas Metschke. You can experience history live, following in the footsteps of Gutenberg, Cranach and many others.
A variety of prints are hung on the walls. Some are black & white, some brightly coloured, portraits, invitations, sayings - everything that can be done with ink on paper is made here just as it was 500 years ago. The printing press stands impressively in the corner, waiting to be put into operation. The other half of the room is filled with massive cabinets, where the letters of the various fonts are stacked in the letter cases.
Andreas Metschke is a trained printer. He has also worked as a historical printer for the past 26 years. Script and words are his passion, as is language and its development. "It's sad that almost nobody owns a Duden any more", he says and decries the decline of language. His own Duden may well not contain many of the words that are really common today – that at least is the impression given by its historical appearance.
The principle of a mechanical printing press is not very difficult: a printing plate is filled with letters into a printing form and clamped in the printing press. A roller carries the ink onto the printing form, which is then pressed onto a printing material. This is how an imprint is made. Although the printing press in this workshop is not from the 15th century, the principle is the same.
Typesetting the printing form takes between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the subject. Printing itself is then the shortest part of the process. Watching how quickly the finished printed sheets pile up – always with a blank sheet in between so that nothing rubs off – can be quite hypnotic. Finally, the print then dries for more or less 24 hours, depending on which ink was used and the printing substrate.
The printing workshop is full of Luther: you can see him everywhere, either on prints with slogans which are still drying, in portraits or on templates. You come across the Reformer wherever you look. Even if you look at the cabinets full of letters in the various fonts. Of course, the font "Rundgotisch” can be found here. It was this font that Luther used for his Bible as it was easily decipherable. Without frills, serifs or other embellishments it is easily and clearly legible. A perfect match for Luther's message.
Even as we look around the printing workshop, larger and smaller visitor groups keep looking in to watch Andreas Metschke at work. He allows himself a few jokes in passing with the tourists, while operating the heavy machine. This is just the right place for anyone who is interested in book printing and its history. A guided tour even gives visitors the option of doing some printing themselves if they wish. Prints can also be ordered.
Historische Druckerstuberead morecollapse
06886 Lutherstadt Wittenberg