Type Founding, Typesetting, and Print Techniques
When the largest type foundry in Europe, D. Stempel AG from Frankfurt am Main, ceased its operations in 1985, the association "Haus für Industriekultur e. V." [House of Industrial Culture] took over its estate. The technical equipment of the company now forms the basis of our branch. Here, at Kirschenallee 88, a former furniture factory building from 1906, we preserve a cultural treasure: all lead typefaces, casting matrices, stamps, and stencils of the type foundry D. Stempel AG. The spectrum ranges from Antiqua, Grotesque, and Egyptienne typefaces to script and Fraktur typefaces, to Arabic, Cyrillic, and Hebrew typefaces that the company offered during its almost 100-year existence.
The cultural heritage of the industrial age is gradually disappearing in the field of printing technology due to the introduction of electronic technologies. We aim to preserve it and make it accessible to our visitors. Volunteer typesetters and printers demonstrate working techniques on functioning machines and show the transformations that took place in the printing industry from the 19th century to the 1970s. The exhibits bear witness to impressive engineering and top performances in mechanical engineering.
We consider ourselves to be an "active" museum. The various techniques, such as hand typesetting, machine typesetting, type casting, intaglio printing (etching), and planographic printing (lithography), are practically demonstrated in printing workshops.
The focus of the collection is on letterpress printing, a high-pressure printing process during the phase of industrialization and mechanization. The exhibition illustrates the development of letterpress printing machines: from cast iron hand presses of the early 19th century to a newspaper rotary press from the MAN company from 1935. In addition, visitors gain insights into the history of the Linotype line setting and casting machine – from the oldest model, which went into series production in 1903, to the Quadriga model from 1971, which was controlled via punched tape.