Sunday, June 06, 2004

Death sentence commuted to life in Aussie newsroom

I'm still looking for info on the type of fount used (or the fount of type) and the ink-making process, but here's a brief tale about Australia's first paper:

Australia’s first newspaper, a magazine-sized weekly, was produced by a convict, George (Happy) Howe, under "the authority of" the colonial governor who had editorial control. Howe had been sentenced to death for robbing a store; his sentence was commuted to exile "for the term of his natural life" in the colonies and he was sent to New South Wales aboard the Royal Admiral in 1800. After securing a job as the government printer, Howe went to work producing the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, which first appeared on Saturday, March 5, 1803. It was a one-man operation. Howe researched and wrote the copy, drew the layouts, set the type, sourced paper and printed it using ink he had to make himself (and all at his own expense), then made the deliveries to his 300 subscribers, from whom he had the added task of collecting payment. The four-page Gazette was laid out in three columns using an understocked fount. The A on the masthead was created using an inverted V and the W using two overlapped Vs; throughout the paper, ƒ represents s. The page rules were done by hand and not what we'd exactly call "straight". Paper stock depended on whatever he could get hold of - the first editions were on different coloured sheets; some were undersized sheets that Howe pasted together before printing. His first edition contains his own advertisement seeking cheap, even slightly damaged or mildewed, paper.

The editor of Western Australia’s first newspaper (still seeking the name), which ran for a whopping three weeks in 1829, took the easy way out, handwriting the paper and publishing it by securing it to a tree.


At May 30, 2010 at 4:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!



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