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Couch of an apprentice printer in 2004 in Düsseldorf

Couching a traceable to the 16th century is printer consumption in which an apprentice by passing the final test as part of an absolution ceremony immersed in a vat and / or on a wet sponge is set.

In its original meaning, the term "couching" describes the first dewatering step after scooping the paper , the laying down of the freshly scooped sheet of paper from the sieve on a felt pad.

Gautschen as an old typesetter and book printer custom

A description from the 17th century for the couch ceremony:

"Wolan it must be the rough pig / with special diligence be penned / servant / help make fun of me."

And after some jokes had already been played:

"Now he is out the bad tooth / Give the pommad 'my Compan / To paint the beard on him: So that the beautiful maiden servant / Everyone can look right / The dog' also beseeches him."


In addition to the Gäutschling (also called Kornut ), a Gautschakt also includes the Gautschmeister, the first and second packer and the sponge holder. Usually there is still a different number of witnesses or several packers who also sign the voucher letter. It is still wet when you chew. But not only the person to be baptized gets wet, but often also the packers, spectators and also the gunners who know nothing of their "luck" beforehand.


The apprentice is not told when exactly he will be eaten. If he succeeds in escaping the packers and thus the couchette, he does not have to pay for the couch festival himself. At the call of the couch master "Attack!", The disciple is caught in a water-filled bucket or, if those involved want to make it less drastic, placed on a sponge soaked with water. In some printing works, a fountain near the company is used for the baptism. In any case, it must at least be ensured that the rear part is properly moistened. But since the disciple often defends himself bravely, lashes out and bites, it is often not possible to tackle the first attack. The more he defends himself, the more he is watered down from above, so that the disciple becomes soaked all over his body. Occasionally couching is seen as a symbolic measure to allegedly wash away the bad habits from the apprenticeship .

Gautschspruch, Gautschfest and Gautschbrief

Gautsch letter from Badenia Buchdruckerei, approx. 1930

During the couching, the sponge holder gives a humorous speech to the disciple and the surrounding audience.

"Attack! Let his corpus posteriorum fall on this wet sponge until both pads are oozing. Give the thirsty soul a splash bath on top that is the best baptism for Gutenberg's son. "

In addition, the text of a Gautsch letter from the VEB Graphische Kunstanstalten in Leipzig dated June 28, 1952:

"By Gutenberg's grace, we disciples of Gutenberg in Leipzig announce to each of our fellow artists and to know that the disciple of the noble book printing art Eckert, Paul, according to old custom and tradition, today received the water supply ad posteriora with the involvement of the journeyman of the unnamed office and thus in all of us from the emperor Friedrich III . granted rights and privileges has been introduced. By virtue of the same we command all of our fellow artists to recognize Gutenberg's most prominent disciples as honorable black artists and legitimate companions. "

Another Gautsch letter from Bern around 1900 states:

“To honor the old custom of art, he neither struggles nor defends himself. Received the usual three thrusts on the ass. And wriggled like a perch. Then he paid plain and cash the well-known couch fee. "

The Gautsch letter with a printer's coat of arms, which confirms the baptism as a disciple of Gutenberg, is only given to the Gäutschling at the Gautschfest, to which he has to invite his colleagues after the Gautschete. There should be companies that ask a new employee for their couchette letter when they take up a job, and if they cannot present one, the couchette must be made up for.

Couch in the 21st century


In the present, in addition to typesetters and printers, prepress technicians and sometimes also media designers are occasionally gawking, although they no longer come into contact with printer's ink every day. E.g. at the Mainz Midsummer Night , the Berlin Upper School Printing and Media Technology , the Leipzig Gutenberg School , the HTWK Leipzig, the Beuth University of Technology Berlin , the Macromedia Academy Munich (vocational school), the BSZ Construction and Technology in Dresden , the State Vocational School Media & Printing technology in Neumünster , August Bebel School in Hanau-Steinheim and at a private technical school in Biberach an der Riss , a traditional couch celebration takes place every year at the end of school.

Gautschen in Mainz, Gutenberg's hometown

In Mainz, the world's largest public dinner in honor of Gutenberg takes place on the Mainz Midsummer Night . Several thousand visitors attend the spectacle on the Mainzer Liebfrauenplatz every year. Trainees in the graphic arts at the Mainz vocational school are given up. Since 2014 the city of Mainz has had a new couch master in Harro Neuhardt. With his team, the disciples of Gutenberg, a letter of honor will also be awarded in Mainz from 2014. Prize winners are people who have made a name for themselves in the graphics industry or in the media sector.

Web links

Gautschbrief - certificate for the master of book printing, issued in 1990 in Vienna
Wiktionary: gautschen  - explanations of meanings, word origins , synonyms, translations
Commons : Gautschen  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gutenbergschule Leipzig: Gautschfest 2010 Accessed August 5 2011th
  2. ^ Gautschen at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Retrieved on August 5, 2011.
  3. ^ Macromedia Academy Munich: Baptism of water as a media artist - the couch celebration 2011 on July 11, 2011. Retrieved on August 5, 2011
  4. Archive link ( Memento of the original from June 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Information about the couch festival of the BSZ Bau und Technik Dresden  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. NN: Dive once, please: Printers have been choked. The state vocational school for media and printing technology celebrated its 30th anniversary with prominent guests . In: Holsteinischer Courier , online version from September 2, 2013; accessed on July 21, 2015