The paper examines the circumstances of three strikes of typographers (i.e. printers, typesetters and type founders) that took place at the beginning of the organised labour movement. Following strikes were studied: in Leipzig in the spring of 1865, in Prague in the summer of 1869, and in Vienna at the end of the winter of 1870. The first part of the study deals with the specifics of typographers who, as the elite and elitist labour aristocracy, stood in-between the social worlds of the forming group of factory workers and the middle-class intellectuals. The second part observes the strategies and agency of individual participants during these three strikes. The final part of the study is devoted to the specific features of women’s work in the book printing industry and to the sharp responses of striking workers to attempts by certain printwork owners to begin teaching women the art of typesetting.