Brown Prior Anderson, Melbourne, Australia

Thanks to Don Hauser for allowing me to use this extract from his book “Printers of the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne” which he designed and typeset at his Nondescript Press. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for Don, the original limited edition print run of 1,000 copies entirely sold out and the book is no longer for sale.

Brown Prior & Co. letterhead and sketch of Printcraft House circa 1930
Brown Prior & Co. letterhead and sketch of Printcraft House circa 1930

W G Anderson was apprenticed to Brown and Prior. He later worked in New Zealand but returned in the early 1920s to work for them again.

The firm began producing books probably at Anderson’s direction. In the early 1930s Anderson was invited to become a partner and Brown Prior Anderson moved to a new four storey factory at 430 Little Bourke Street.

Brown and Prior retired but F Brown continued as landlord of the property that had become Printcraft House.

When the firm became seriously involved in book production in the 1930s, Miehle letterpress machines and several Linotypes were installed. Total staffing exceeded 100 people — the bindery alone employed 30 people for soft cover and case bound books.

The four storey building was serviced by a water-driven lift that descended much faster with a load of paper or type metal and made production a nightmare. The decision by the Melbourne City Council to phase out the hydraulic water lift service was the primary motivating factor behind the move to 5 Evans Street, Burwood in 1966 and a timely opportunity to change to photo-typesetting and offset printing in the early 1970s.

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