Historic NZ Cossars at risk as project hopes fade

New Zealand's two historic Cossar presses are in limbo after hopes of housing them in a new museum were abandoned.

The Printing Museum in Wellington had hoped to include at least one of the web-fed letterpress machines as part of a working printing museum, book arts centre, community workshop, specialised printery and type foundry.

Now GXpress understands ownership has been relinquished as hopes of realising this project fade.

Former committee member Bill Nairn says the problems are "all very personally disappointing". Not only did he accept the presses on behalf of the Museum, but his late father-in-law was a Linotype operator at the Grey River Argus and also assisted with the running of the Cossar - the older of the two - which is now under threat of being scrapped.

The UK-developed presses are historically important because of the breakthrough technology which enabled regional newspaper publishers to print relatively high volumes without the complications and cost - including maintaining lead foundries to cast printing plates - associated with rotary presses. Designed to be 'flat-packed', the first Cossar press went to New Zealand in 1903 to be installed at the Wanganui Chronicle. Today, only a handful still exist in the world.

Steve Carle, managing editor of the now NZME-owned Bush Telegraph in Pahiatua - where the two Cossars are still located - Carle tells us the newer Cossar - from the Kapi-Mana Observer - is regularly turned over. The other press, dating to 1926, comes from the Grey River Argus.

Carle is hoping it may be possible for a home to be found for them at NZME's Ellerslie print site, where the New Zealand Herald and other newspapers are printed. "Fingers crossed that there is a good outcome," he says.

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PRINT | NEWS TECHNOLOGY HISTORY
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