Spring 2019

Last man casting

Rainer Gerstenberg is one of the few people in the world to cast foundry type, keeping alive a craft that was developed more than half a millennium ago

A visit to the top floor of an old factory building in Darmstadt, half an hour south of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, is like time-travelling to an era not so long ago. Since 1997, Rainer Gerstenberg has been casting metal type there, surrounded by heavy machinery, hundreds of type cases, even more matrices, all covered in a fine layer of grease and molten lead. These objects represent the remains of a tradition that began with Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the ground-breaking hand mould, a device that could cast letters from a matrix even in the 1450s. (Prints were already being made from movable metal type on the Korean peninsula, more than 
70 years before.)


Matrices of Univers 67. Photograph by Norman Posselt.
Top: Since 1997, Rainer Gerstenberg has been running his type foundry at the Haus für Industriekultur in Darmstadt. He is surrounded by 43 machines, most of which cast type from Stempel, Haas, Klingspor, Deberny & Peignot, Nebiolo and others, at a range of 4-72 point type size.

5. Gerstenberg-4784

Ferdinand P. Ulrich, typographer, type historian, lecturer, Berlin, Germany

Read the full version in Eye no. 98 vol. 25, 2019


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 98 looks like at Eye Before You Buy on Vimeo.

Tracker Pixel for Entry