Sands & McDougall, 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.

Composing Room, Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, Australia, 1897
Composing Room, Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, Australia, 1897.

The first “Melbourne Directory” was published by Sands & McDougall in 1856 and continued production until 1974. A 1975 issue had been planned but the cancellation of 600-800 copies by the Victoria Police, left the next largest order for 30 copies. Production of the directory was unsustainable.

The sale of many tonnes of letterpress standing type metal returned a generous liquid asset to the company.

The legacy of “Sands & McDougall’s Directories of Melbourne and Suburbs” today remains a huge resource to amateur and professional historians.

A printing press powered by a water-driven turbine was set up in 1867, a huge improvement on the existing 22 hand operated presses.

By raising 72,500 pounds in debentures, a huge building costing 45,750 pounds was erected at 357 Sepncer Street and completed in 1889. This edifice, which still stands today, was in its early years jokingly referred to as “James MacDougall’s White Elephant of the West.”

Letterpress Printing department, Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, Australia, 1897
Letterpress Printing department, Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, Australia, 1897

The printing of tram tickets became an important contract for Sands & McDougall for many years. As late as 1923, a large rotary press for printing tram tickets and a quad crown two-colour offset machine were installed.

Around the turn of the Twentieth Century the company was the largest printing establishement in the Southern Hemesphire and the “Invicta” logotype could be seen on a vast range of printed products including account books, exercise books and many items used for the Australian Federation Celebrations in 1901.

Since its early days, the company printed banknotes for the trading banks in a special note printing department. In 1910, the Federal Treasury took control of note issues. The Commonwealth Note Printing Branch was established in 1913.

Today, Sands & McDougall Printing continues in partnership with the Henry Thacker Print Group and a number of associated companies who are part of the Sands Print Group headquartered in Geelong.

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