From Gutenberg to Auckland Digital Print – A direct link

With over 50 years experience of Reprographics and Digital Print in the Auckland market, it has been suggested that my memories of this dynamic industry may appeal to a wider audience. My story will stretch back over 800 years, from the battlefields of the 3rd Crusade, to Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in 1439, to current day Digital Print in Auckland.

In looking at the history of Neville Newcomb Ltd., the owner of Newcomb Digital Print, it is necessary to go back before its Auckland debut in 1896, to the very early days of print.

My known ancestry dates back to Sir Hugh le Newcomen, of Lincolnshire, who was a knight of Richard 1st in the 3rd Crusade, 1187ad. This seems to be unimportant in the story, except that it gave him serious power back home in Lincoln, and allowed the ensuing Newcomb family to prosper, and gain recognition in the highest courts of the land.

The western world was revolutionised with the invention of the movable metal type press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. In short order the power of the printing press introduced the era of mass communication, which altered the structure of society, and allowed huge growth of the emerging middle class across Europe.

Recognising both the threat and the potential of this new technology, the various rulers grabbed the upper hand, and appointed their own print specialists in order to try and control the market.

Here is my entry point- In 1656, King Charles 2nd appointed Thomas Newcomb ‘The Elder’ as King’s Printer, printing “Parliamentary Intelligence”, and all Bibles, Books of Prayer, Statutes, etc. A very nice printing brief!

Following his father, Thomas Newcomb ‘The Younger’ was King’s Printer to James 2nd, and William 3rd. He died in 1691. Both these Newcombs are direct ancestors, and the family power in the print industry must have been huge, but I imagine pretty controlled and dangerous.

Here is my next entry point- In 1695 the ‘Stamford Mercury’ of Lincoln became the first daily published newspaper. 100 years later, Richard Newcomb was the registered proprietor, but family lore suggest that the Newcomb interests go back to the beginning of the newspaper. My mother, Jean, attended the 300th anniversary of the ‘Lincoln Mercury’ in 1995 as a representative of the family.

So, ink runs in the Newcomb blood.

My next writing will trace the path that leads to Digital Print in Auckland.

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