Friedrich Koenig

Portrait: Friedrich Koenig
Friedrich Koenig, marble bust by Alois Mayer, 1916, Stiftung der Druckmaschinenfabrik Koenig & Bauer, Oberzell bei Würzburg
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Leipzig, Fotografie: Michael Setzpfandt

Friedrich Koenig

Inventor of the jobbing and cylinder press

Weary of the envy of strangers, Koenig and Bauer returned to their fatherland where they, at the monastery of Oberzell bei Wuerzburg, founded the fantastic machine factory that supplied nearly every German workshop with the endlessly praiseworthy products which, powered by steam provided by two boys, replaces ten hand presses and produces 2,400 prints in an hour.

Karl Falkenstein, Geschichte der Buchdruckerkunst, 1840

Removed early from secondary school for economic reasons, Friedrich Koenig learned his trade at the Leipzig printing company Breitkopf & Härtel. An autodidact, he learned his mathematics and mechanical skills on his own, and he attended lectures at Leipzig University as a guest. First in Suhl and later, from 1806, in London, he searched for business partners with whom he worked together on substantial improvements to book printing methods. With Andreas Friedrich Bauer he first built a jobbing press, followed by a much more efficient cylinder press. On 29/11/1814 the Times became the first mechanically printed newspaper in the world.

This was followed in quick succession by other printing presses whose designs were of fundamental importance. When he returned to the continent, in 1817 he and Andreas Friedrich Bauer established a machine factory in the monastery at Oberzell bei Würzburg. Their rapid presses shortly became very important in book and newspaper printing. Together with Johann Friedrich Cotta in Münsterschwarzach, they also operated the first paper mill in Bavaria.