Skip to content

The custom of couching

"Gautschen" is a letterpress custom that can be traced back to the 16th century. After passing the final examination, the apprentice is immersed in a tub or fountain.

We're literally diving deep here - not only into the water at the "Gautschen" - but also into the history of letterpress printing. Are you ready for an expedition to the origins of the art of printing?

We throw our apprenticeship graduates into the village well

But watch out! You won't stay dry in the process. We not only tie up our apprentices after they have passed their final exams, but also throw them into cold water - usually into the village well in Goldach. This is the only way they can become full members of the League of the Sons of Gutenberg and their apprenticeship certificate is sealed with this act, the "Gautschen".

Why do we throw our apprenticeship graduates into the village well?
The term "couching" originally comes from paper production. It refers to the first dewatering step after the paper is scooped.
Couching is actually a cleaning ritual in the printing trade.

After successfully completing their apprenticeship, the apprentices are washed clean of the printing ink that they have come into contact with during their training. Not only does the apprentice get wet, he or she is also read a couching letter:

"Pakkt an! Let his Corpus Posteriorum fall on this wet sponge until both its balls are dripping. Give the thirsty soul a sturtz bath on top of it, that is the best baptism for the son of Gutenberg."

Gäutschling in fountain

The bath in the village well is followed by a party
The bath in the village well - the baptism as a disciple of Gutenberg - is of course celebrated with a drink.

To seal the baptism, the Gautschling invites his colleagues to the Gautsch festival. There he receives the Gautschbrief with the letterpress printer's coat of arms and thus his apprenticeship diploma, as well as admission to the Sons of Gutenberg.

Group photo from the Gautschfest