Printing machine, Wharfedale, U.K., 1950-1989
This collection was acquired when the NSW Government Printing Office was closed in 1989. It consists of a variety of material with emphasis on revenue printing from 1870-1989.
While the Sydney Gazette was printed in the earliest days of white settlement in Australia, it was not until 1840 that the NSW Government Printing Office was set up. It occupied various premises until a purpose built structure was erected on the corner of Phillip and Bent Streets in 1870. The pediment from this building was placed in the foyer of its replacement, a purpose built building in Harris Street Ultimo, erected in 1956, and forms the centrepiece of this acquisition.
NSW postage stamps were first printed under contract at the GPO Sydney from 1850-1856 and then by the government printer until 1912. (Federal Australian postage stamps were not issued until 1913). However revenue stamps (stamp duty, railways freight etc) were continued to be printed by the Government Printer until 1989.
In 1898 a forgery of some NSW postage stamps had been uncovered, largely through the detective work of William Applegate Gullick, NSW Government Printer from 1897-1922. As a result many old printing dies and plates were recalled and destroyed and two large safes installed to increase security. Imagine our delight when we opened these in 1989 to find many of the original dies and printer's proof sheets still there!
Some significant printing machines, such as early Albion and Columbian printing presses, were acquired by the museum but it was impossible to take everything. Museum photographer Andrew Frollows spent two weeks in the revenue room meticulously photographing the layout and detail of such presses as the Chambon which printed stamp duty stamps from 1966 until turned off in 1989 and auctioned.
Researchers will be able to determine with more certainty issues of tram, bus and train tickets by consulting this acquisition which also includes the type used for tram tickets. Many of the operational records of the NSW Government Printing Office were acquired in 1989 by the State Records Office and may be inspected there.
This material not only documents a century of official printing in NSW but complements other objects in the Museum's already significant collection of printing technology.