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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

J. T. Smith & Co

J. T. Smith & Co.

Christchurch is well provided with representatives of the Fourth Estate. One of the largest and oldest printing businesses is that conducted under the style of J. T. Smith & Co.

Having its city office conveniently placed in the busiest part of Hereford-street (opposite Miles & Co.), while the printing house is situated in the Springfield-road, the firm possesses the advantage of easy access to its clientele, combined with low rental and comparative immunity from risk of fire. The two offices are connected by a direct telephone line, erected by Mr. Meddings for Messrs. Smith, who were the first in Canterbury (if not in New Zealand) to avail themselves of the new invention.

The printing house in Springfield-road consists of a large two-storied building of galvanised iron, splendidly lighted by two tiers of windows running the whole length of its sides and ends.

The upper storey is divided into two compartments, which contain the type-setting and bookbinding departments of the business. Messrs. J. T. Smith & Co. having commenced business as letter-press printers, typography naturally forms an important part of their trade, and due attention has been given to the arrangement of this department, with a view to securing both a high standard of excellence and economical working.

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The account-book manufacturing and bookbinding department, which was the next branch taken up by the firm, has, despite many initiatory difficulties, achieved a deserved reputation for good solid work, and the firm has gained high awards at the various exhibitions. The kinds of work undertaken by this department are, of course, very varied, ranging from a plain, library binding to a richly-tooled specimen of an edition de luxe, or the ruling of billheads to the manufacture of ponderous ledgers.

On the ground floor is the paper room, where are stored the various kinds of stationery required for the purposes of the trade. Immediately opposite is the stereotyping room, fitted up with an excellent plant. Messrs. J.T. Smith & Co. are the only local printers who possess this important adjunct to a printing office. Next to the stereotyping room is the lithographic draughtsmen's room. The firm have for several years devoted special attention to the lithographic department of their business, and have become reputed for spirited and beautiful designs, and high-class penwork. Some very handsome specimens of colour work were in hand at the time of our visit, which, when issued, should excite general admiration. Illuminated addresses, &c., are also a part of this department's work, and we were shown some very rich and finely executed specimens of the staff's artistic capabilities.

Leaving the draughtsmen's room we find ourselves in the machine department, which occupies the largest portion of the ground floor. The most prominent feature of this room are two rows of lithographic and letter-press machines and presses, running the whole length of the room. Here are carried on copperplate printing, such as crests, monograms, visiting cards, &c., lithographic printing, both black and coloured, and the various kinds of type printing, from a ticket to a newspaper or periodical. Power is supplied by two Otto gas-engines, the largest of which is placed in an engine room adjoining the main building. It may be noted that Messrs. J.T. Smith & Co. were also the first in Canterbury to use gas as a motive power, Mr. R.C. Bishop supplying their first engine.

The whole of the works are under the personal supervision of Mr. J.T. Smith, the head of the firm, while Mr. W. Sidney Smith conducts the city business at the firm's office, 201, Hereford-street.