Hermann Zapf was born in the small factory town of Nurenberg on November 8, 1918. His first "lettering designs" in 1930 were not calligraphic artworks but rather "secret documents," the more crazy and illegible the better. In class they exchanged notes written in such "secret scripts" that it was only decipherable if you knew their code or "alphabet (About Alphabets, 11).".
In school he wished to become an electrical engineer, however, his father was fired and Zapf could not go to technical school. Instead he looked for an apprenticeship in a graphic process plant as a lithographer or color etcher. When nothing was found he accepted the job to retouch positives. In March 1934 his apprenticeship began at Karl Ulrich and Co. printing plant (12,13).
When his apprenticeship ended in 1938 he went to Frankfurt and into Haus zum Fursteneck, a studio for lettering and musical instruction by Paul Koch. Hermann Zapf worked there at typography and became an independent lettering artist on September 1, 1938, but remained as a voluntary fellow-worker (15). In the studio Zapf was introduced to punch-cutting and to August Rosenberger, a great master in the craft. Rosenberger cut metal type for Zapf (Classical Typography, 2). In 1939 Zapf designed his first printing type named Gilgengart (About Alphabets, 16).
In 1939 they began designing a lettering book called Feder and Stichel. This book had twenty-five alphabets and calligraphy pages. During the war Zapf became a map designer to a cartographic unit in France. These were cut in metal by August Rosenberger (22,23). From 1948 to 1950 he gave calligraphy lessons at the arts and crafts school in Offenbach. Zapf taught lettering twice a week to two classes of graphics students. In 1951 he married a teacher at the Stadel School in Frankfurt named Gudrun von Hesse (25).
Metal type is an integral part of letterpress printing because it gives a "bite impression," for the type is pressed into the paper and gives a sculptural effect.