Hacking Gutenberg is an experimental letterpress workshop in Berlin dedicated to letters, printing and paper.

We explore how letterpress can be redefined in the 21st century through research, printing, collecting, publishing and making things. We work with hot metal- and wood-type, several proof- and platen presses and other traditional analogue equipment, and combine those with digital techno­logies. We have a Ludlow caster, a Risograph, a Glowforge laser. We built our own laser to make polymer metal-backed 50×70cm (20×28") plates direct from data (no negs), and we print those plates on a 1954 Heidelberg Cylinder.

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A group of TypeMedia students from the The Hague visits the workshop.
P98A Studio
Our proof presses in full color.
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Our Simplex platen press

Workshops → One of the joys of running a letterpress studio is to share the expe­rience with others. At Hacking Gutenberg we regularly set up workshop sessions for a group of individuals or entire teams. Workshop sessions start with a historical intro­duction to letterpress and with a look at different printing methods as well as the typographic measurement system. This is followed by a tour through the work-space. → Sign up here.

P98A Workshop 02
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Alexander (right), a trained typesetter, sometimes helps us during workshops.
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Jannis (right) knows our wood type catalogue pretty well, because he’s proofed several of them himself.
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Our favorite letter ‘ß’ in 48 point Erbar ­Grotesk halbfett, designed by Jakob Erbar and released with Ludwig & Mayer in 1927.

Collection → We have more than 500 ­cases of poster type made from wood and alterna­tive materials, ranging from 8 to 60 Cicero (the German equi­valent of a “line”) and around 450 ­cases of foundry type from 6 to 96 point. ­Gauges for measuring the height of ­rollers and type as well as the thickness of paper are tools we use daily. We also have type specimens and a large collection of books—old and new—about printing, typesetting and typography.

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Walzensteller „Greif“ a.k.a. Walzengreif

Post-digital printing → We expose polymer plates, cut large size type from digital data, mill punches to make matrices for casting new hot metal type and will be 3D-printing poster type as soon as the materials be­come affordable. We use a direct-to-plate process to output digital plates for letterpress-printing books on a Heidelberg Cylinder and a giant (130×96cm) ­Johannisberger stop­-cylinder press from 1924. Erik recently talked about the process and some projects at a conference watch it here.

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Daniel checks a proof while printing the books for the Suhrkamp Letterpress edition.
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Suhrkamp Letterpress does not seek to serve a bibliophile market. Our aim is to produce pieces of literature that exceed the pleasure of reading and also satisfy other senses. Many trades are necessary to produce a book. A book is only a book, once it has become a book.

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Raymond Queneau: ‘Stilübungen’ → For this piece we selected predominantly French typefaces. Roger Excoffon’s ­‘Banco’ seems legit.
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Ludwig Wittgenstein: ‘Tractatus logico-­philosophicus’ → Designed in Questa (sans and serif), a type family by Jos Buivenga and Martin Majoor

We have recently joined forces with TOC The Other Collection.

TOC is the product of our belief that important literature deserves books made of the finest materials, using the most sophisticated printing techniques. At a time when most reading has become a fleeting experience, we will create a more permanent space for important thoughts and ideas, by lodging them in handsomely printed books. Our books – placed on a curated bookshelf – will be a quiet place in today’s information pandemonium. But we shall also choose books that spur lively dialogue with other readers. TOC focuses on contemporary literature, books that will form the canon of the future.

The books are printed in limited editions, signed and numbered – individually designed to enhance each text.

At TOC we combine the advances of modern typography with the quality and artisanship of centuries-old book printing. While classic letterpress offers a pleasant analog reading experience, its limitations, including the high cost of traditional metal type setting, have so far made it prohibitive for modern book production. By transferring the layouts onto polymer plates with our in-house laser setter and improving print quality, step by step, on our Heidelberg Cylinder press, we combine the virtues of analog and digital processes. This results in the best of both worlds: refined digital typography and a smooth analog reading experience.

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TOC Books come with colorful jackets, each one designed to express the theme of the book
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Letterpress printing comes in more colors than black.
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At the back of each TOC book, we write about why we picked a particular text and how we design it.

Publishing → Our journal P98a Paper is a collection of stories, opinions and illustrations by people we know and whose work we like. In its first volumes, the project began on a Risograph, a “digital silkscreen” printer used for small publications with spot colors. Through Paper we continue to explore different printing technologies: letterpress, offset, post-digital letterpress, and digital ­printing. Buy it here.

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A collection of stories, opinions and illustrations by people we know and whose work we like. P98a Paper explores printing technologies.

Material → We are experimenting with different materials and methods for producing our own large type. After trying out acrylic glass and 3D printing, CNC-­milling from hard surfaces like Formica mounted on plywood turns out to be the most promising way.

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[1] 20 cic Akzidenz Grotesk halbfett → Plakadur, a resin used by the Berthold type foundry since the 1930s; [2] 20 cic FF Real book → Formica on ply wood; [3] 16 cic FF Real book → Acrylic mounted on plywood; [4] 16 cic FF Real book → Milled from maple wood; [5] 8 cic Akzidenz Grotesk fett → Produced on a 3D printer; [6] 60 point “AG” halbfett → Cast in metal
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Large newspaper format printed by p98a and Lettertypen last year.
Erik and Lilith printing the “Orbit” poster for a client.
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Susanna and visiting printer Rick printing covers for Paper #05.
P98A Calendar
Some of our favorite type in the workshop: Akzidenz Grotesk, HWT Artz, Signal, Fanfare, Fat Face, Reporter, Bernhard Fraktur
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Proof of Italian wood type during our trip to Tipoteca Italiana in Cornuda, May 2019.

typographic workshop
Potsdamer Str. 98a
10785 Berlin, Germany

+49 (0)30 8321 9070
instagram → @p98a
twitter → @galeriep98a

Potsdamer Str. 100
10785 Berlin, Germany

Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 pm.