Mr. or Mrs. G. Göltz developed a roller setting gauge in Stuttgart decades ago, simply called “Walzensteller Greif”, that makes our life easier. It is a piece of engineering that easily outshines the conventional “Lollipops”. Roller is Walze in German, so we call this device “Walzengreif”.

A Greif (Engl. griffin) is a mythological hybrid, a legendary creature with a body, tail and back legs of a lion, equipped with an eagle’s head and talons. In the coat of arms of the printers’ guild a griffin holds two ink balls (the German verb greifen means to grab). 

We have measuring instruments for type height, for paper thickness, for rubber blankets – and certainly for rubber rollers. However, we are not convinced of the Lollipop, a roller-setting gauge that is very common with our colleagues in the United States. The small cylinder at the end of the metal bar equals any given type height, but is not adjustable. It can only be used with an inked roller and provides an ink mark that gives no further reference – this device works without scale.

P98A Schrifthoehenmesser
Schrifthöhenmessgerät, a device to measure type height
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Spezial-Dickenmessen, a gauge for rubber blankets
P98A Lollipop 01
Lollipop, the most common roller setting gauge in the United States
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The Lollipop can only be used when the rollers are inked
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As the Lollipop has no scale, the ink mark provides no further reference

A “Walzensteller Greif” on the other hand, works with much higher precision. Unfortunately not much is known about the origin of this device; it was developed by the firm System Göltz and was apparently registered as a Deutsche Reichs-Gebrauchsmuster (D.R.G.M.), an early German utility model, however, an entry in the digitized German patent database could not be found. One of the earliest mentions of a “Walzensteller”, can be found in a volume of the Polytechnisches Journal in 1825.

P98A Walzengreif Panorama
The original packaging of the “Walzensteller Greif” features one of our favorite typefaces from the 1920s: Erbar Grotesk

In order to measure the height of the rollers, simply slide the key on one end of the device under each roller. On the other end a needle points at a scale to indicate the preferred type height (in our case the deutsche Normalschrifthöhe at 23,56 mm). By turning the adjusting screw on each suspension of a roller, you regulate the height until it reaches the red mark on the scale.

P98A Walzengreif Panorama 02
Swabian engineering
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Simply slide the Walzengreif under each roller and watch the scale
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Turn the adjusting screws on each roller to regulate the height
P98A Walzengreif 01
The needle goes up: Looks like the roller is too low!
P98A Walzengreif 02
The red mark on the scale indicates German type height (23,56 mm).
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To change the type height standard, simply adjust by turning the screw on the back.

Post scriptum
The name Walzengreif is not to be confused with Typengreif, a vacuum cleaner-like device that was developed by Aparatebau Wilhelm Bilek, another firm based in Stuttgart. It is equipped with a removable top part that lets you pick up type from one compartment of a type case and release it into another. While air is sucked through the hose, the type is kept in the very top by a filter (our colleagues in Weimar dedicated a small blog entry on this device). 

P98A Typengreif
Typengreif, just another example of German engineering from Stuttgart
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Typengreif in action. White lab coats are becoming a trend again. (Image from our colleagues at typografie.info)

This article was first held as a lecture by Ferdinand Ulrich at Typostammtisch Berlin #70, 26 Oct. 2017. All photographs by Norman Posselt.