With a target of $5,000 to decommission and transport the 1939 Heidelberg Zylinder Automat from the Don Dorrigo Gazette newspaper, 575km to the Penrith Museum of Print, it is gratifying that 30% - AUD$1,500 - has already been raised in just 5 days. 'we have had donations from $5 to $250' says a spokesman 'and every one will receive a handsome certificate of appreciation once the press is restored and working again.'

 Zylinder Automat renderedThis is how the Zylinder Automat would have looked when new - magnificent engineering

People are asking 'Why is this press so important?' While its full history is still being researched, it is well known that, since 1970, it has printed Australia's last surviving all-letterpress/hot metal newspeper in the town of Dorrigo, NSW. The English family had published this local Gazette for 113 years with the last owner, Mick English, reluctantly closing is in June due to health issues and a declining circulation.

Mick has made it available to the Print Museum but Dorrigo is 575km away and it need specialist transport and re-commissioning, costing at leasy $5,000. The Museum is volunteer-run and a not-for-profit, so this represents a fair chunk of its treasury.

We can now reveal that, prior to Mick's Father John English installing the cylinder press in 1970, it had been operating since 1954 at Port Pirie, South Australia at a company named Automatic Printing, owner Albert Harold May. It was imported from Germany by long-term Heidelberg agent Seligson & Clare. AutomaticPrint today.pngAutomatic Print today - still in Pirie!

Amazingly, May's grandaughter, Robyn, still runs the bisiness which today does mainly digital print and textile printing such as T-shirts and uniforms. She recalled "I remember my Grandad running that press on Simpson Street, not far from where we are now. I was a little girl, so memories are a bit vague."

The arrival of the automated press made news in SA, with the Port Pirie Recorder of July 12th 1954 reporting:

New Machine Installed In Pirie
"Automatic Printing Company Limited, Simpson street,- Solomontown, has installed this week a new Original Heidelberg automatic printing press. Costing £4,600.
The beautiful piece of machinery was imported direct from Heidelberg (Germany) -through the South Australian agents, Seligsonand Clare (Australia) Ltd., Adelaide.
It occupies floor space 10 ft. by 6 ft. and weighs about 4.5 tons. The maximum paper sheet it willI take is 21 ins. X 28 3/8 ins., and itcan make up to 4,000 impressionsper hour. It is designed for color work. (note: registration on Original Heidelberg Cylinders was immaculate!)
Mr. R. D. Allen and an assistant, of Seligson & Clare, arrived in Pirie on Tuesday to superintend the installation, and the machine was given a trial run yesterday.
The mechanical beauty of the Heidelberg Automatic is such that inspection by anyone is well worthwhile." (with thanks to the NLA Canberra and Trove)
The invention of the Zylinder Automat speeded up the print production because it automated paper feeding from a stack. Prior cylinder presses had to be hand-fed one sheet at a time.
We are discovering more about this important piece of Australian printing history - such as its being hidden away during the war years until 1949 when the US occupation of Heidelberg allowed non-Nazi symatiser CEO Hubert Sternberg to resume manufacturing and exporting.
If you would like to support the Museum's relocation project please follow THIS LINK or click the press image above. All donors, small or larger, will receive a beautiful letterpress-printed and engraved Certificate of Appreciation once the press is operational again.
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