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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Correspondence — "Our Early Newspapers—The Southern Cross."

page 20

Correspondence.

"Our Early Newspapers—The Southern Cross."

To the Editor of Typo.

Sir,—In the article in your issue of the 28th December, headed as above, several inaccuracies appear—notably the one in reference to the Herald—which requires some explanation from myself, as I have been credited with writing the article in question.

The correspondent, in speaking of the Gross, says: « The change from a semi-weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays) was effected very quietly …. but the surprise was greatest in the office of the rival paper, the Herald. » Surely the New Zealander is meant, for the Herald was not in existence or even contemplated at that time, as it did not make its appearance until some two years afterwards. I might state here that the New Zealander did not appear as a daily (although permanently enlarged to eight pages as a semi-weekly) until January, 1863, Williamson & Wilson being the proprietors. It was not till the partnership of the former was dissolved that the late Mr W. C. Wilson and the late Mr David Burn started the Herald in premises situated in Queen-street (near Durham-street), afterwards removing to more commodious and freehold premises in Wyndham-street, where it has continued to be published ever since.

Again, speaking of the Gross, the writer says: « Then came Mr Scales as printer, and made great changes. One of the old hands left [which one?] and Moss from the New Zealander took the vacant frame. » This is news to me. All the old Gross hands know perfectly well that Mr Moss was a machinist, and not a compositor. He came from the firm of Messrs Cassell, Petter, & Galpin, the well-known printers and publishers, Belle Sauvage Yard. He was specially engaged for the Gross in England, and brought out with him two of the above-named firm's printing machines. I have heard that Moss at the present time is the proprietor of a paper in New South Wales.

The correspondent is still in error in reference to the head-line. He says: « The engraved head had not come from Sydney [England?] and a substitute had to be set up in the job-room. » The heading, or rather the fount of type from which it was « set, » was purchased from the late J. J. Moore, of Queen-Street, who was a printers' broker on a small scale. We had no job-face type in the office suitable for a head-line, so we had to make shift with a four-line fancy letter, rather black, until such time as we got the engraved heading from Miller & Richard, of Nicholson-Street, Edinburgh, who supplied all the Gross type, with the exception of a fount of bourgeois and long primer which had to be purchased from the agent of Messrs V. & J. Figgins in Sydney.

With reference to the appearance of the Cross as a daily on the 20th May, 1862, I might mention that the late Mr Scales called the compositors together before going to dinner, and told them not to disclose the fact to anyone outside, as he wished to make it a surprise to the people of Auckland—and more especially the rival paper the New Zealander—which no doubt it was.

In speaking of the first chapel formed in Auckland, the writer omits my name entirely, for what reason I am at a loss to know, seeing that I was employed in the office, first as an apprentice, and then journeyman, from 1854 to 1864, and consequently must have been in the office at the time the chapel was formed. One of the pressmen is also omitted. His name was Robert Cowan. The well-known Ball is down as a pressman, whereas, as all old hands know, he was a compositor.

Another omission is that there is no mention of the « real editor » of the Gross after Hugh Carleton resigned. This was the late James McCabe, who wrote the editorials up to within a few days of his death; in fact one or two of his « stock articles » appeared after he was buried. Then Mr Hugh M. Lusk was appointed leader writer, on account of Mr R. J. Creighton being continually away from the office as travelling war correspondent. The above are a few facts culled from memory's log-book, for which I hope you will find space in your next issue.—Yours &c.,

William Smith, (an old Cross hand.)

Molesworth-Street, Wellington, February 18th, 1890.