Saturday, May 7, 2016
The Queenslander Saturday 19 October 1878, p. 85
Visitors the late exhibition may have observed in the fine arts gallery two glassed frames containing a number of electrotypes of duty stamps; but beyond giving them a passing glance and wondering whit they could be, few we think who did so could take in the half of what they implied, and without some explanation we question if anyone would be any the wiser for their having seen them. Mr. William Knight, the Government Engraver and head of the Stamp Printing Department, was the exhibitor. He has been in connection-with that office ever since its establishment, now some twelve years ago, and all stamps have hitherto been printed from the steel plates direct, or from transfers on Lithographic stones. In either case the process of printing ia very slow, say about l60 sheets a-day, and consequently very expensive. Mr. Knight, however, knowing that electrotypy had been availed of for the purpose of cheapening the production without sacrificing the quality of the work to any appreciable extent, set himself to the task, and the contents of those two glazed frames were the result.
They have just begun to put them into practical use at the lithographic office, and in future the day's work will be quadrupled, at least; so that, instead of 100 sheets as heretofore being the day's work, from 600 to 1000 will be produced. The means by which this is accomplished is roughly thus:— Thin electroplates are prepared in a battery of the required stamps; these are backed with type-metal in small square blocks type high; they are then locked up in a chase, and worked at an ordinary printing-press. Of course Mr. Knight claims no more than that he has applied to the work of his own office what has been in operation in other places for some time past; but we are pleased to know that some of the heads of our department are determined not. to drift into the background, but to keep shoulder to shoulder with the latest improvements. This, too, of course, means more than the mere money-saving, which will not be a. trifle, but as the colony grows the demand is becoming so great for the increased production that the difficulties thicken; bat this new process will save the office from all difficulties of that kind for years to come. We are also glad to note that this is being followed up by other improvements in this office, notably by the addition of a fine lithographic machine, and they are only awaiting the arrival of a gas engine to build it and bring it into use. The need of these additions has been greatly felt of late, particularly in the printing of the electoral divisions, according to the new Act.