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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa



The technology of printing has been entirely imported and all significant changes have been introduced from the European or North American places of invention. Detailed information about the techniques can be found in the printers' manuals of England or America; a number of these have been made available since the 1960s, and much of the relevant material is summarised in Philip Gaskell's compendium A New Introduction to Bibliography (1972) which has a useful section of 'Reference Bibliography', covering the various technical aspects divided by period. The earliest printing in New Zealand used many of the techniques of the wooden press era (pre-1800), and there was then a transition to the technology current in England. Conditions in North America were often closer to the New Zealand situation than those in Britain, and works such as R.G. Silver's The American Printer 1787-1825 (1967) are worth consulting for general background.

Technical innovations can be traced through the contemporary trade journals. The most common sources were British journals such as the British Printer (London, 1888- ) and the Chicago publication Inland Printer, although other sources were also available. Individual manufacturers of machinery and other equipment would advertise in the local trade journals, and the Australian firms of printers' brokers could supply trade literature. Later in the 19th century, several New Zealand firms added the function of printers' broker to their other areas of activity; their identity must be discovered through their advertisements in the New Zealand or Australian trade journals such as Typo or, at a later date, Printers' News, the journal of the Master Printers' Federation.

In the 20th century, on the whole, New Zealand print production processes have exhibited an accelerated pace of technological change, keeping not far behind developments in the larger, more heavily industrialised countries. Even so, older technologies persisted for a long time in niche areas, as in the continuing use of hand-set type for advertisements or posters, and of manual presses for proofing (see, for an example, William Cameron, Centenary of a Press, 1963).

Hardware (typesetting machines, presses, guillotines, bindery presses, etc.) and new skills have still had to be imported. Type and ink have also been imported extensively, although local manufacturers, such as the ink-making firm Morrison & Morrison (ceased 1994), have taken increasing shares of the market. For a long time, all printing papers had to be imported, but since the 1950s New Zealand has become more than self-sufficient in the manufacture of newsprint and of most kinds of uncoated printing papers.

Agencies for overseas suppliers, new migrants, travelling New Zealanders, overseas trade journals such as those already mentioned, and Penrose's Pictorial Annual, and advertisements in their own journals, have kept New Zealand printers in touch with overseas developments and induced them to invest in new plant. A representative collection of text resources which had been acquired and consulted by printers is documented in the Ferrymead Printing Society's Catalogue of Printing Technical Books (1993), which includes operating manuals for machines, catalogues for type and equipment, guides to typography and costing, and trade magazines, mainly from Britain or the USA. A noteworthy example of a migrant who introduced important innovations was Arthur McKee, who brought a linotype machine with him when he immigrated in 1890, introduced new photo-engraving techniques, and was the first printer in the southern hemisphere to run a press with an electric motor (see R.F. McKee's article in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol.3).

The New Zealand Patent Office Journal (1912- ) contains a record of all patents, trade marks and designs registered in New Zealand. These include many overseas developments as well as New Zealand registrations; in both categories there are a number of innovations relevant to printing technology. Before the Journal was established the annual report of the Patent Office (AJHR H.1, 1885, and subsequent years) included lists with the same information. The Patent Office records, both in the current material held in the Office (in Lower Hutt) and the non-current records deposited in National Archives, contain the fuller specifications of the patents registered.

Probably the most notable of local inventors was Frederick W. Sears, who pioneered a process for photo-lithography, in the first years of this century; his article on 'alzinography' in Penrose's Pictorial Annual (1908-09) describes his process, and the contribution of a Chicago lawyer and engineer, Ira Washington Rubel, who invented the offset printing press that made it work (see also McKay, 1940, p.109). W.H. Thomas in The Inky Way (1960; see pp.89-90) writes of E. Richards' invention of a remarkably durable plate for offset printing, utilised by Thomas in New Zealand Pictorial News.

There has been only one general survey of developments in the technology of printing in New Zealand, the work of McKay, 'Cavalcade of printing' (1940b). The 19th-century industrial exhibitions included sections on the printing industry and accounts in the exhibition reports and catalogues can be very useful, even when the descriptions are very brief. The first of these exhibitions, the New Zealand Exhibition held in Dunedin in 1865, is the most useful of these reports with the commentary in Reports and Awards of the Jurors (under class VIII: Printing and allied machinery, and class XXVIII: Paper, stationery, printing and bookbinding) being very rewarding. The New Zealand Industrial Exhibition in Wellington in 1885 also provides some useful commentary in its Official Record, as does the Official Catalogue of the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin, 1889-90. Other exhibition catalogues and handbooks provide much less detail.

Given the broad division between composition and presswork, within the composition or 'pre-press' area, right through to about 1970, there was a sharp distinction between typesetting and graphic processes, such as lithography or photo-engraving. From the 1970s onward, with the development of computerised composition, this polarity has become less clear cut. In terms of personnel, there was a correspondingly clear separation of 'printing' workers from lithographers and process engravers. Larger printing works usually had their own process departments; but smaller firms specialised in one trade or in another. Now, in the 1990s, most of the larger firms have the capacity to carry out four-colour graphic work; but even so, there is a discernible category of firms that specialise in high-quality graphics. Among the local journals, Printers' News serves the mainstream, whereas the New Zealand Printer and Graphix have been directed towards the specialists (Graphix has included a particular interest in the printing of packaging). Computype Briefs (10 issues, 1989-91) also appealed to graphics specialists.

A crucial dimension of technology is the skills of work people. An unsigned article, 'The printing and publishing industry of the dominion: an analysis', in Printing Prestige, 1 (October 1935) noted that printing and publishing was then 'easily the largest secondary industry in the country', and provided the highest percentage of added value, 278%, through the skilled use of its technology. Adequate levels of training of apprentices in the various crafts was thus always a major concern. In more prosperous times, the retention of skilled tradesmen could present serious difficulties for provincial printing companies, as for example, for the Hawera Star Co., which sometimes had to import tradesmen from England to replace those who left for the main centres (see One Hundred Today: The Hawera Star 1880-1980, 10 April 1980, p.86).

The most drastic technological innovations in the 'modern' era in printing have been in typesetting processes. The first major transformation was the progressive, but never complete, displacement, from about 1890 onwards, of hand-setting by the introduction of Linotype, Monotype and other hot-metal machines, notably Intertype and Ludlow. Whereas previously big companies had had large numbers of hand-compositors working long hours, the operators of these machines could get through work more quickly. But substantial, and extended, craft skills were still required; and increased volumes of work brought about net gains in employment levels. The second 'revolution' has been the introduction of computer typesetting from the 1970s onward. Roberta Hill and Bob Gidlow in From Hot Type to Cold Metal (1988) indicate that it has been more devastating, leaving less and less room for the exercise of the skills of the printing craftsman or woman. Graphic process work has also been transformed, now that images can be directly scanned, and integrated into layouts; again, the new technology has displaced the highly skilled craftspeople.

Advances in printing press technology have been more frequent, and step-by-step. The skills required have changed, and the work of operators become less laborious. The introduction of steam, gas and eventually electric power obviated the need for muscle power, but manual feeding of paper for general printing persisted much longer. The introduction of automatic feeding enabled presses to work much faster.

Technological processes available at a particular period have been outlined in Hutcheson (1938), in McKay (1940), in the Federation of Master Printers' brochure, The Printing Industry in New Zealand (1969), in the brochure entitled simply Unity Press Ltd, Auckland, in Oliver (1976), and in Hill and Gidlow (1988).

Individual newspaper histories, usually published as special supplements to the newspaper in question, have customarily included descriptions of the currently used technology and sometimes a survey of the past technology. An excellent example of the genre is the Otago Daily Times 1861-1961: First Hundred Years, in which commentary on the paper's history is combined with notes on the advertisers, most of whom are suppliers of paper, ink and printing machinery. The Christchurch paper, The Press, is unusual for publishing a separate hardback book, R.B. O'Neill's The Press 1861-1961, for its centenary.

The isolated examples of jobbing printers issuing publicity booklets, such as H.I. Jones & Son Ltd's Jubilee Souvenir 1860-1910, may include photographs and commentary to provide some technical information. Newspaper advertising supplements when a printing firm has opened new premises may also provide significant technical information on current equipment; the identification of these supplements will be difficult without systematic scanning of newspaper pages, since they are seldom covered by indexing sources.

Type and materials

This section covers typography (in the sense of design), type, equipment, and materials—ink and paper.


The term has two senses, page and book design, and the nature of typefaces. In the broader sense (which includes the choice of type), apart from the influence of R. Coupland Harding, this country's printers have generally followed fashions originating overseas.

As J.C. Beaglehole noted, in 'Book production in New Zealand' (1948), from late last century up to about 1938 the quality of book and print material production suffered a 'big slump'. This general mediocrity could be linked to the smallness of the New Zealand book market, and the dominance over it for a long time by overseas publishers, so that only the more modest kinds of books tended to be printed within this country. There were however honourable exceptions, including some of the works printed by the Brett Publishing Co. in Auckland, and by Harry H. Tombs in Wellington, such as his edition of James Cowan and Sir Māui Pōmare's Legends of the Maori (1935), described in the Fine Arts (NZ) brochure A Romance of Book Production (1929).

Beaglehole accorded credit for the recovery in typographical quality to the publishing policies of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (for which he had himself been the designer), and of the Department of Internal Affairs in relation to the publications associated with the 1940 Centennial, and to the rhetoric and examples provided by Robert S. Lowry in Auckland, and by the Caxton Press group in Christchurch.

It is widely acknowledged that Lowry (see Printed in Auckland (1956) and Glover, 'Typography: Bob Lowry's books', in Book no.8 (1946)), and Denis Glover, Leo Bensemann, Dennis Donovan and others at the Caxton Press, despite the relatively small scale of their operations, did much to bring about an extensive raising of consciousness in this country about the importance of good design, and of using harmonious, elegant typefaces. Glover's 'Some notes on typography', first published in Yearbook of the Arts in New Zealand (1949), amount to a statement of faith. Alan Loney's '"Something of moment": Caxton Press typography in the 1950s' (Landfall, 1993) traces much of the Caxton group's inspiration back to the new British book arts culture propounded by Stanley Morison, Eric Gill and Bruce Rogers. Their lead was picked up by other relatively modest sized high quality presses, such as Albion Wright's Pegasus Press, Robert Gormack's Nag's Head Press and Alan Loney's Hawk Press, in Christchurch, and Ronald Holloway's Griffin Press in Auckland. Here, the dividing line between the commercial and the hobby or private press is blurred to near invisibility.

Other recent book designers and typographers are worthy of investigation, among them Janet Paul, originally of the publishers Blackwood & Janet Paul, and subsequently freelance, and Lindsay Missen.

That many of the more straightforwardly commercial printers developed an active interest in the aesthetics and finer points of their craft is evidenced by some of the books and periodicals passed on from them to printing libraries such as the Ferrymead Printing Society's in Christchurch. The printer and journalist Tom L. Mills, of Wellington and Feilding (1865-1955), is mentioned by McKay (1940, p.239) as a prolific writer of newsletters, local correspondent for British, American and Australian trade journals, and contributor of articles to many other periodicals.

General studies of the use of type in New Zealand book design have been few, but most have provided excellent indications of what should be done. Harding's comments in Typo on the new publications which came to his attention are always interesting, though brief; most are reprinted in Selections from Typo. J.E. Traue discusses certain examples of Harding's own typography in 'Robert Coupland Harding's library catalogues 1880-89' in the Turnbull Library Record of 1992. There is one general survey, McCormick's excellent but brief sketch 'Pattern of culture' (1950). As always with this author, this is an exemplary piece of work. Some very specific pieces are reviews: Beaglehole's 'A few harsh words on Areopagitica as printed' (Book no.4, 1941) is a stringent analysis of the failure of the Caxton edition to present an historically valid typographic version of the Milton text. He provided a much more general, very brief, survey in his 'Book production in New Zealand' (1948), and his 'A small bouquet for the Education Department' (1951) acknowledges the typographic achievement of the School Publications Branch of the Department.

Beaglehole's own work as a typographer or book designer was surveyed in a knowledgeable and expert way by Janet Paul in a lecture at the Stout Research Centre in 1991; this is to be published by the Book Arts Society in 1997. Her 1977 article on ' The Turnbull Library Record 1940-76' includes a discussion of the typography.

Under 'Typography' may be included style manuals. Survivors include those issued by the Otago Daily Times and Witness Newspaper Co. Ltd (1927), the Dominion (1938), Wilson & Horton Ltd (1952), the Evening Post (1955), the Timaru Herald (1957), the NZ Printing and Stationery Department's Government Printing Office Style Book (1958; previously issued in separate parts, 1954-58), the most recent edition of which is The Style Book (revised and expanded by D. Wallace and J. Hughes, 1995), and Write, Edit, Print (AGPS and Lincoln University Press 1997). The Ferrymead library has three style books for the Christchurch Star (1970, 1983, n.d.).

The only studies of typefaces used in New Zealand are the introduction by Keith Maslen to the specimen of Matthews Baxter & Co. of Dunedin, reproduced in his Victorian Typefaces in Dunedin, and the brief article by Coleridge, 'Ornamental and display types by commercial printers in colonial New Zealand' (1996). The early series of articles by Harding, 'Design in typography', in his journal Typo (which are not included in the Selections from Typo), and his contributions to the Chicago-based Inland Printer (c.1894-1905) are general studies with no specific New Zealand reference, but they are important because they provide the context for subsequent developments in New Zealand and for Harding's own work. D.F. McKenzie discusses the ideas in these articles in 'Robert Coupland Harding on design in typography' in An Index of Civilisation (1993).

Type specimens are the most important source material for the history of typography. The first creative act of the printer has always been to build his (occasionally her) stock of types, by selecting from the range of competing designs. The choice is normally made from type specimens, issued since almost the earliest days of printing, formerly by type-founders selling their wares in the form of finished cold metal types or as matrices—a few such firms still operate—and recently by computer software companies such as Adobe Systems Inc. Type specimens from the original supplier, whether in the form of books, brochures, or single sheets, are invaluable sources for the identification of typefaces in local use, as well as for tracing the sources of supply. Few copies of early type founders' specimen books exist outside the major production centres in Europe and North America, where St Bride's Printing Library in London has the best publicly accessible collection.

The Lyon & Blair Specimens of Printing Types . . . manufactured by Stephenson, Blake & Co. (probably c.1885) is the nearest to a type founder's catalogue produced in 19th-century New Zealand; Lyon & Blair were agents for Stephenson Blake from about 1875. The specimen books issued by printers, such as the Matthews, Baxter specimen reprinted in Victorian Typefaces, and the 1878 Specimens of Type, Borders &c used in Lyttelton Prison, seldom if ever identify the designer or foundry, as Coupland Harding complained. Harding's own Catalogue of Printing Types, Machinery and Materials which was printed in 1897 is, apparently, a remarkable exception. Unfortunately it seems to survive only as a single copy held in private hands.

In the 20th century, specimens of typefaces from overseas suppliers have often been distributed, if not printed, by New Zealand agents. Examples are the specimens of Mouldtype faces issued perhaps since the 1930s by Morrison & Morrison (later Morrison Printing Inks & Machinery). A significant Wellington agent, Alex Cowan & Sons Ltd, issued Specimens of Printing Types, Borders, &c., kept in stock (undated, c.1910). The country of supply is significant. In 1881, George Griffin, the Dunedin proprietor of the Colonial Printers' Register, lamented that the British were neglecting the colonial market, 'which in the matter of ornamental and jobbing type, is almost monopolised by the Americans' (vol.2, p.132, 30 June 1881). Comparative studies, for instance with Australia, are needed.

New Zealand has not had an originator of type designs (pace Harding), but in the 20th century, local foundries have been established to cast type suitable for hand-setting using overseas-supplied matrices, by firms such as Express Typesetters in Christchurch; thus it became much easier to replace worn fonts, recycling the metal. Firms with their own typesetting machines have required ingots of metal, sets of matrices, and catalogues of faces.

The Ferrymead Printing Society's library catalogue lists a substantial collection of specimen books, from founders such as Stephenson Blake (UK, c.1880, 1963), Berthold Type Foundry (Berlin), American Type Founders Co. (1912, n.d.), and also from the American suppliers of typesetting machines, Mergenthaler Linotype Co., Intertype Corporation, Harris-Intertype Corporation, Ludlow Typograph Co., Lanston Monotype Corporation, and Monotype Corporation. Other repositories have representative examples from these and other firms.

Printers' types and the way they use them may be seen in whatever issues from their press. However, individual printers have often chosen to display their wares and skills by designing and printing their own type specimens. These were sometimes prepared for trade exhibitions, as for instance the Fergusson and Mitchell works exhibited at the Dunedin exhibitions of 1865 and 1889-90. Most were produced for distribution to potential customers. Specimens have frequently been issued by newspaper printers, such as the Otago Daily Times, for the use of advertisers in their newspaper, or for customers of their jobbing department. Examples of specimens from other than newspaper printers include much sought after pieces from the Caxton Press, Christchurch, in the days of Denis Glover and Leo Bensemann, such as Meet Some Nice Types (1956). The Government Printing Office's New Type for Every Job (1952) was attractively 'set up and designed by William Sinclair, typographer'. The Ferrymead library includes specimens from firms such as The Press, the Christchurch Star, Bascands (Christchurch), Coulls Somerville Wilkie Ltd, and Whitcombe's/Whitcoulls. The Turnbull Library also has copies of some of these, and of others from other firms. The Caxton Press issued two specimen books 'of faces commonly in use' (1940; 1948; new ed. 1956, (expanded) 1979).

How many printers' specimens have yet to be collected—or may be lost forever—is suggested by Harding's comments on 'Trade Lists and Samples' in the issue of Typo for October 1890 (p.123): 'We have been shown a little book of 24 pages, issued by Fergusson and Mitchell, of Dunedin, and advertising the branches of work undertaken by that firm. Each page is different in design, and some recent novelties in type are displayed. It is the work of Mr J. McIndoe, and contains the best typographical designing that we have seen done in New Zealand . . .'

The display advertising of individual printers will usually form a partial showcase of their selection of jobbing types. These pages do not, of course, name the types in any way. Coupland Harding preserved a collection of leaflets, which are now held in the Turnbull Library ('Collection of leaflets', 1874-87). In the case of other printers one must go to the advertisement pages of the almanacs and directories that they published (listed in Don Hansen's The Directory Directory, 1994) and the occasional special publication such as the Wellington Typographical Union's Patriotic Souvenir 1914, which offers pages from a variety of firms with some anecdotes and brief accounts of printing.

With the advent of machine casting in the 20th century, and the greater control of designs which accompanied a changed attitude to type design, the specimen books produced by printing firms were far more likely to identify the types precisely so that printers, or specialist typesetters, would automatically name the fonts they had available, and a printers' broker would name the designs they were offering for sale. This tendency was reinforced by the ease with which printers could obtain specimens and other sale literature directly from the original manufacturers, wherever they were located, even if they could not import the actual fonts, because of import restrictions. This was also true for the prospective customer, if interested, so that an advertising executive, for example, could have specimens from type designers in America, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary, and Spain, even if no New Zealand printer ever bought type from any of them.

The introduction of computer controlled phototypesetting, and the other technical advances of the 1970s and 1980s, made the identification of typefaces even more relevant, and a large printer such as the Government Printing Office would automatically itemise the designs and type sizes available, as in their looseleaf Gold Book specimen book of 1984.

Presses and other machinery

The machinery for all aspects of printing—the presses, the composing machines, and other more specialised equipment—has all been imported, usually having been manufactured in Europe (including Great Britain) or North America, though a number of Australian firms began to manufacture copies of European designs, with or without authorisation, from the mid 19th century. The standard sources for investigating the history of this machinery are indicated in Gaskell (1972), and James Moran's specialist work Printing Presses (1973).

Black and white photograph

'Mr Testar instructs an apprentice in the art of embossing at the Government Printing Office, Wellington', a September 1949 photograph taken by National Publicity Studios photographer W. Wilson. The Government Printing Office was a major provider of apprenticeships; there were 45 in 1880 and 96 in 1966, including 12 bookbinding apprentices. In 1988, the last full year of operation before it was sold (after 125 years of service to the government), there were 27 apprentices, 3 of whom were in bookbinding.(National Archives: National Publicity Studios Photographic Collection [Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ, reference number F-30163-1/2- (A14,082)])

There have been no general surveys of the development of printing machinery as such in New Zealand, although most general accounts of the technology treat the introduction of new presses in some detail, and newspaper histories, such as the Otago Daily Times celebrates 125 years 1861-1986, usually place considerable stress on this aspect of their history.

Some useful articles deal with particular aspects of the technology, or the sources of equipment. Kwasitsu's 'The production of the Nelson Examiner' (1986) covers the printing presses, as well as all the other features of the newspaper technology. There are also a group of articles on individual surviving, or historic, presses, beginning with William Cameron's New Zealand's First Printing Press (1959) on the press used by William Yate in 1830. Other articles on particular presses are:
  • William Cameron, Centenary of a Press (1963)
  • Ruth M. Ross, 'Bishop Pompallier's press in New Zealand' (1973)
  • M. Fitzgerald, 'A press from Paihia in the National Museum' (1974)
  • Roderick Cave, 'A common press in New Zealand' (1984)
  • Roderick Cave, 'An uncommon press in Canterbury Museum' (1993)

John Fletcher's article 'From the Waikato to Vienna and back' (1984), discusses the fate of the printing press gifted by the Austrian Emperor and used to print the Kingite newspaper Te Hokioi, as well as recounting the experiences of the two Māori men who were taught to print in Vienna.

In the early 1960s, Cameron of Auckland University's English Department conducted a census that located about 70 19th-century hand-presses; but this needs updating. Until relatively recently, several such presses remained in commercial use as proofing presses, examples being the Albion described by Cameron in 1963, and the Imperial press used by Watson & Eyre, Palmerston North, now in Massey University's Bibliography Room. Others may be in the possession of members of the Association of Handcraft Printers.

The Pompallier building at Russell is one historical museum with good documentation on the equipment on display, and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust's explanatory leaflet Pompallier: l'Imprimerie Mariste (1994c) has an excellent brief description of the equipment, just as the leaflet Pompallier: Composition (1994a) gives information on the techniques involved in printing.

The best surviving archives relating to acquisition (and disposal) of mechanical hardware are those of the Government Printing Office. The archives of printing and newspaper companies, such as those listed above, may have some information. Otherwise the details for particular firms must be gleaned from newspaper histories, such as that by R.B. O'Neill (1963), and centennial issues, also from local histories such as Paul Melody's They Called it Marton (1979), and autobiographies such as Kay Holloway's Meet Me at the Press (1994), about the Griffin Press which, for much of its life, she operated with her husband Ronald.

For the 20th century, details of the increasingly sophisticated presses becoming available can be found in articles and advertisements in trade journals, originated both overseas and locally, and in newspapers' centennial supplements. McKay (1940b, pp.103-04) shows the machine press field still dominated, about 1900, by different marks of Wharfedales, with newspaper printers shifting from double-feeders to quadruple-feeders. However, for the larger newspapers, increasingly fast and massive rotary presses were needed. The Otago Daily Times obtained a Hoe rotary press in 1894. The Press got one in 1909, from R. Hoe and Co., New York (O'Neill, 1963, p.129). In 1961, it was claimed eight out of ten daily newspapers were using Hoe-Crabtree rotary press plants, with 50 in use throughout the country (Morrison & Morrison advert, Otago Daily Times centennial supplement). There has been a subsequent shift towards web offsets. For example, on 7 June 1988, the Manawatu Evening Standard brought into operation its recently acquired Goss Urbanite offset, issuing a supplement, Press Time '88, to celebrate the event and review its previous presses.

The first offsets had arrived in the country in 1913, offering improved capabilities for colour printing. From 1923 onward, the vertical Miehles had started coming into use, and about a decade later, the Heidelbergs. Information about the increasingly sophisticated and specialised presses and processes becoming available appeared in advertisements and articles in British, American and Australian trade journals, and, since 1935, in local journals also, Printing Prestige, Printers' News (from 1946), and in the more recently started journals, The New Zealand Printer and Graphix. Nowadays, just as there are many kinds of printed products, from postage stamps to flexible packaging, bewilderingly many different kinds of presses have developed for printing them.

The development of composing machines began from 1822 onward with various cold-metal devices, but none seem to have reached New Zealand. The 1880s saw the development of the first hot-metal machine, the Linotype, by Ottmar Mergenthaler of Baltimore, as 'its chief (though not its only progenitor)', which became viable in quantity when conjoined with the Benton punch-cutter in 1889, with 'large-scale series production' beginning in 1890 (Gaskell, 1972, pp.274-76).

Despite McKay's statement (1940b, pp.107-08) that Linotypes were first brought into the country in 1897, for the Auckland Star, the New Zealand Herald, The Press, Christchurch, and the Otago Daily Times, the DNZB article on Arthur McKee states that he brought one with him when he immigrated in 1890 (he established the firm of McKee and Gamble, and as one of the three directors of the Cyclopedia Company, formed to produce the volumes of the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897-1908, carried out the engraving, stereotyping and machine work for its first volume). Harding records in Typo, 27 September 1890, a report in the Tauranga-based Bay of Plenty Times of 22 September 1890 about its bringing into use of an efficient typesetting machine, operated by a woman (Selections from Typo, p.106). Clearly there is room here for further enquiries.

W.A. Glue's History of the Government Printing Office (1966) notes that in spite of its very heavy workload this establishment moved more cautiously, installing two Linotypes and two of the recently perfected Monotype machines in 1903. The Monotypes proved the more suitable for its needs, and in the next year it bought more. Generally, however, Glue does not go into much explicit detail about machinery acquisitions, and recourse must be had to the archives themselves, or to annual reports in AJHR (many records were lost in the 1890 fire, but annual reports survive for the earlier decades; for some reason they were not submitted for the period 1893-1915).

The New Zealand Provincial Press Ltd's The Provincial Market (c.1974) includes brief 'mechanical data' and the 'printing method' for each newspaper dealt with.

Again, the printers' journals mentioned above provide useful sources for the introduction of computerised typesetting. Hill and Gidlow (1988) examine the technological changes involved, and the impact upon the workforce of the Christchurch Star newspaper. The teletypesetting machine represented an intermediate stage, with operators taking in advertisements by telephone and typing them into a device that produced a punched paper ribbon. Photo-typesetting is discussed by J.G. Gregory and I.M. Calhaem in articles in An Editorial Processing Centre for New Zealand Journals (1979). In the 1990s, camera-ready copy can be produced by anyone with access to a computer and a good quality desktop printer; and if only a small number of copies are required, these can be photocopied, so that some of the traditional work of the commercial printer is gone. Full-colour reproduction can be done with a laser print copier.

Advertisements in the journals, and in newspapers' centennial supplements, identify the main suppliers of printing hardware and other requirements, either as agents or as manufacturers. Companies such as Alex Cowan & Sons, A.M. Satterthwaite & Co. Ltd, Printing Inks & Machinery Ltd (Auckland), Morrison & Morrison, with its major plant in Christchurch (see Tait, 1961), and T.S. Wilson & Gollin Ltd, themselves merit investigation. In recent years, the ubiquitous liquidations, mergers and takeovers among companies have changed the names and owners of many participants; Morrison & Morrison, as an example, has been displaced by Manders Coatings & Inks, the New Zealand subsidiary of a British firm.

Graphic reproduction techniques

The only significant general survey of graphic reproduction techniques is McKay's 'Process-engraving' (1940c). There are occasional articles in the art history literature which deal with individual artists and touch on the technical details of reproduction, but the article by R.P. Hargreaves, 'The first New Zealand lithographs' (1982) is rare for focusing on the commercial application of the techniques. Bruce Sampson's Early New Zealand Botanical Art (1985) provides the printing historian with a useful survey which includes some description of the technical processes used for those works which were printed in New Zealand, and some information on the technicians who actually did the work. There is one separate study of an early technician. Marcel Stanley's brief compilation on Alfred Ernest Cousins, an engraver and die-sinker who prepared the dies for many of New Zealand's postage stamps in the 1890s, reproduces various relevant documents as a brochure for the 1980 New Zealand International Stamp Exhibition.

There are a few articles and papers relating to the technical aspects of graphic reproduction. In 1871, Julius Vogel reported for the Government Printing Department on 'photo-zincography', the technique of photolithography on zinc plates (Information obtained . . ., AJHR G.27, 1871), with particular reference to its possible application to the production of maps. It gives an excellent summary of the technical details, with an estimated price list of the materials required. Five years later, a further report (Photolithographic Branch . . . Papers relating to the saving effected by the . . ., AJHR H.22, 1876), summarised the savings which resulted from the introduction of photolithography; it also includes technical details along with the costings. By this time, photolithography was becoming a standard, although specialised, branch of printing techniques and thereafter there are few references to it, except in technical manuals.

The 20th century has witnessed the introduction of increasingly sophisticated reproduction processes. McKay provides an overview up to 1940 (1940c, pp.118-126). The British publication Penrose's Pictorial Annual was a vital source of information for any serious printer about new developments. The various trade journals, and especially The New Zealand Printer, Graphix and Computype Briefs, are useful on the importation of more recent technical innovations in graphic fields.

For some decades the Government Printing Office took the lead in introducing new, improved machinery and processes. Glue (1966) indicates that by 1890, in addition to the composition room and pressroom, its other branches included lithographic, and photolithographic—to which was later added photo-engraving, as half-tone processes were introduced later in this decade. There were also those for stereotype and electrotype work, stamp printing, and binding, and the stationery store. Relatively few commercial companies would have been as fully integrated.

In the past, the engraver, the etcher, and the lithographer, who drew designs directly upon the stone, were very much artists in their own right, as well as skilled craftspeople. From about 1960, the development of devices such as the Klischograph for reproducing images directly as zinc or polymer blocks greatly speeded up illustration processes, by eliminating the intermediate artist. As a partial response, in the 1960s the Committee on Standards of Graphic Reproduction issued five booklets, compiled by R.H. Colson, J.A. O'Dea and W.A. O'Neill, to advocate improved 'standards' in using contemporary processes.

Attention may be extended here to professional originators of graphic material: book illustrators such as Stuart Peterson and Edith Howes (see P.A. Lawlor, 'The New Zealand book illustrator', 1936), Leo Bensemann at Caxton, Robert Brett at Caxton and Pegasus, and Russell Clark, to cartoonists such as Minhinnick and David Low, and to designers of pictorial dust-jackets, one of the roles of Felix Kelly (later, of London's Lilliput). Rowan Gibbs of Smith's Bookshop Ltd, Wellington, is establishing a valuable resource of New Zealand illustrated books, taking the view that sometimes their illustrations, dust-jackets or stamped covers are their only distinguished feature.


The artefacts themselves are the primary source of evidence for the study of paper used by the printing industry. However, the necessary analytical methods would not, even under the most liberal conditions, provide information on the sources of supply, price, or other relevant factors. For these, secondary sources must be used.

Most printing and writing papers used in New Zealand have been imported. Early experiments in making paper from flax fibre failed in commercial application because of the toughness of the fibre and the difficulty of eliminating the gum. The first commercial paper mills in New Zealand began at Woodhaugh, on the outskirts of Dunedin, in May 1876, and two months later at Mataura in Southland. Both mills concentrated on making wrapping papers, using rope, rags and other recycled materials, although some rough printing papers were made at various times, particularly during World War I. The Mataura plant continued in operation, as New Zealand Paper Mills, and became a 'white' (good quality printing paper) mill after 1960.

North Island mills were established after World War II, beginning production by NZ Forest Products at Kinleith in 1954, and at Kawerau by Tasman Pulp and Paper in 1955. These use pulp from the pinus radiata plantations of the region, as well as imported pulp, and produce newsprint and other basic printing papers. By 1985, Tasman 30 reports, Tasman had developed a substantial export market in newsprint and kraft pulp.

The costs and availability of papers have generally been critical parameters for the industry. There were major price increases during World War I, with serious shortages, and in World War II controls were imposed, removed after the war but reimposed in December 1945 until worldwide supplies had recovered.

Throughout its history the vast majority of printing papers used in New Zealand have been imported. While official statistics will provide raw figures for volume and value, and possibly for countries of origin, only a study of individual invoices could supply enough detail to be of use in specific cases. The records of individual firms might preserve these invoices, but few such records survive.

Trade advertisements of individual wholesaling commercial stationers may provide hints. These advertisements are particularly likely to appear in trade journals, such as the Master Printers' Federation's Printers' News, or in the centennial supplements of newspapers. Large overseas suppliers such as John Dickinson and Bowaters had their own agencies, but other suppliers were represented by agents such as Gordon & Gotch, or B.J. Ball. They were linked in the NZ Paper Merchants' Association.

Directories can provide information about the wholesale stationers, and the Cyclopedia of New Zealand is the most comprehensive example of this type of information source; others are mentioned elsewhere (see 'Owners and firms' below).

The Federation of Master Printers included a small pamphlet The Story of Paper in their information series in 1950-51, and this describes the general history of paper manufacture. John H. Angus's Papermaking Pioneers (1976) includes a survey of attempts at the manufacture of paper in New Zealand, as part of the scene-setting for its full account of the New Zealand Paper Mills plant at Mataura, and it also touches on the North Island mills established after World War II. The modern wood-pulp industry is a separate area of study, with a significant international literature on the technical and economic aspects which extend well beyond the qualities related to printing. An initial study on the technical feasibility of the industry in New Zealand was made in 1928, reported to Parliament as Pulp and paper making (report on investigations into suitability of selected New Zealand-grown woods for) (AJHR C.3A, 1928). Subsequent developments in the New Zealand pulp and paper industry can be pursued through the technical and business literature indexed in Index to New Zealand Periodicals and Index New Zealand, and the even more specific business index and database Newzindex.

The Industries Development Commission's Report no.6: Book Production Inquiry (1978) and Report no.7: Tariff Inquiry, Certain Paper and Paperboard of Tariff Heading 48.01 (1979) include valuable information about the impact of tariffs on imported papers in imposing higher costs upon local printers, hence disadvantaging them in relation to overseas printing companies exporting to the New Zealand market, which were able to buy paper duty-free. Printers protested; but New Zealand paper making companies welcomed the degree of protection afforded by these tariffs.


The most significant source of evidence for bookbinding practices in 19th-century New Zealand are the books which survive in their original bindings. Sometimes these copies may contain the label of the binder, permitting some assessment of the skills of those firms. Techniques were imported, as were the materials and equipment, and Gaskell (1972) can be referred to for some basic references on the techniques available in the 19th century. The Historic Places Trust leaflets on Pompallier at Russell include an excellent account, Pompallier: l'Atelier de Reliure (1994b), of the equipment and methods used in that French-influenced workshop.

The 19th-century industrial exhibitions included sections displaying bookbinding work done in New Zealand, and there is some slight commentary on these examples in the reports; the most useful of these reports is in the Official Record of the New Zealand Industrial Exhibition held in Wellington in 1885.

These sources do not distinguish between custom binding (by individual order) and edition binding. The distinction became important once New Zealand publications were issued in edition sizes greater than the 400 or 500 copies which were the maximum for most of the 19th century. Even by the late 1890s, the Cyclopedia of New Zealand and other directories normally subsumed bookbinding under the printers or manufacturing stationers by whom the binders were normally employed, and the same is true of discussions in the trade literature. Colenso (1888) records his work not only as a printer but as New Zealand's first binder.

Case, or 'hardback', binding remains inevitably relatively labour intensive, and accordingly costly, except where wages are very low. The Industries Development Commission's Report no.6: Book Production Inquiry (1978) and Oliver's study (1976) offer statistics indicating that by 1976/77 the ratio of 'hardbound' to 'softbound' books printed in New Zealand was roughly one to three, the reverse of the usual overseas situation.

These figures, and the IDC's accompanying graphs, represented a state of decline not only for New Zealand printers of hardbacks, but also for binders, which has doubtless continued. The introduction of 'perfect binding' provided an efficient means of binding paperbacks; but Wilson & Horton's reported experience in 1976 of under-utilisation of its new perfect binding machine was probably typical (see IDC report, p.25). An article by Cyril Fisher, 'Trade binders are scarce in New Zealand', in The New Zealand Printer (October 1984, p.32) states that most printing firms were doing their own binding, and the only trade binder currently in Wellington was Express Trade Binders, founded in 1958. A subsequent article, 'Service must be no.1' (February 1987, pp.42-43) deals with the Christchurch bookbinding and book-finishing firm S.I. McHarg Ltd.

While conditions have remained difficult for edition binding, a number of small firms and individuals continue with custom binding, working for private customers and for libraries. Bill Tito in Akatarawa, a repair binder, has been the subject of a Radio New Zealand Spectrum documentary (National Radio, 29 December 1996) as well as being profiled in local newspapers. Wills Bookbinding and Printing in Palmerston North, like other similar firms in university cities, is kept quite busy in certain months with graduate students' theses, as well as the regular binding of serials for local libraries. Fine and designer binding is a specialist area which is only now being studied in New Zealand, in association with work on artists' books. Edgar Mansfield is the most distinguished New Zealand exponent of this art, but Margery Blackman has studied the Dunedin binder Eleanor Joachim (active 1904-14) and others will undoubtedly be identified as research continues. Beth Carrick's New Zealand Guide to Art and Craft (1996) includes a list of craft bookbinders.

Stationery manufacture and supply

The earliest representatives of the 'booktrade' were stationers, and the conjunction of the sale of writing materials and commercial office appliances with the sale of books has always been common in New Zealand. In the 19th century it was only in the largest towns of England that the sale of books had been separated from that of stationery, and, in New Zealand, many of the larger printing firms in the larger towns sold books and were engaged in the manufacture of some forms of commercial stationery such as account books. Nevertheless, even in the largest manufacturing stationers a high proportion of the stationery for sale had been imported.

The 19th-century industrial exhibitions, most notably the 1885 New Zealand Industrial Exhibition in Wellington, included displays of commercial stationery (which included copying presses, pens, ink and rubber stamps), and the Official Record of that exhibition comments on significant contributions. The evidence to the 1895 Tariff Commission (AJHR H.2, 1895) makes it plain how significant the impact of imported materials and finished goods were on the manufacturing trade.

H.J. Tubbs contributed a brief survey of the firms, 'Stationery manufacturing', to McKay (1940). Apart from this, the history of the trade must, as so often, be followed through the trade journals and occasional advertising supplements in newspapers, even though, in many respects, the stationery and printing industries have now converged in the computer industry.