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History of Australian Printing Industry

Printing history in Australia – the story of life


You may think that printing and printing history is a small and obscure corner of life. But you’d be wrong. 


Printing and printed matter are the foundations of our modern Western society. Gutenberg invented printing in the sense that he brought together and developed a number of separate processes which allowed modern printing to develop. But we should also give credit to the Reformation and to Martin Luther, whose conviction it was, that everyone must know god personally. It meant that everyone had to now read the Bible in their own language—and much else besides. What began with religious works is now books of all kinds: newspapers, medical textbooks and even cook books. The Industrial Revolution kick-started the modern world in that people now had to read as a matter of course. It was the Age of Improvement and it was educated or perish. There was an explosion of printing technology from Mergenthaler and the Linotype to today’s digital printing presses. Colonialism brought printing—and the printed word—to the far flung reaches of empires. Including the shores of the prison settlement at Sydney Cove. But printing is about more than reading a good book. Think jam labels. Where would you be in the supermarket if everything was print-less?! Think the paper jigglers on teabags. Think of the thousand and one printed items we use regularly—even in this so-called digital age.


Printing museums such as the Penrith Museum of Printing are not just accumulations of old machinery. Printing museums are about the story of life.  We try to preserve the Australian Printing History in our Museum and by stories online.

Nepean Times

The Penrith Museum of Printing was established in 2001 in Penrith NSW Australia. The museum is based on a typical 1940's printing house and holds a collection of printing machinery and equipment ranging from mid 1840’s to the 1970’s.

The Museums collection comprises items obtained primarily from the Penrith “Nepean Times” Newspaper, as well as printing establishments from throughout NSW. 

The Museum’s founder, Mr Alan Connell laboured for many years to collect items for a “working museum” that would be capable of show-casing fully operational printing equipment for present and future generations.


This important collection displays the Australian letterpress printing heritage to the visitor in a 1940’s style print shop.


with original copy being turned into lead based letterpress type utilising linotype and handset types set by compositors, through to the print production stage by machinists on small, and or large printing presses.  ​​

The "Nepean Times" office and printhouse in early 1900

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