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Brief history of printing machines

- Golaghat collector hopes to create a museum for his 16 showpieces

Golaghat, Jan. 19: Khirod Kumar Goswami has a passion for collecting and preserving age-old printing machines with the hope that his passion would translate into the first museum of printing history in Assam.

Goswami, a resident of Golaghat, has been collecting and preserving the printing machines since the late 1980s. He has 16 machines in all and they are in perfect working condition, with the oldest one dating back to 1790.

“It was in the late 1980s when computerised offset printing took off and the letter press became gradually obsolete. During that period, many people started selling their old printing machines at throwaway prices. I started to preserve some of them so that our younger generation may know more about the early days of printing,” Goswami told The Telegraph. He hopes that his antique possessions can be part of a museum of printing history.

Some of the machines have an interesting background. The Golding Jobber printing machine, manufactured by Golding & Co. of Franklin, Massachusetts in the US, was used by famous names like Lakshminath Bezbaroa, Nilamani Phukan, Benudhar Rajkhowa, Tirthanath Goswami, among others.

The oldest machine is a hand-operated one manufactured by the UK-based Payne & Sons and bought in 1922 by his grandfather Tirthanath Goswami.

Goswami’s family has been associated with Jadoomani Chapakhana since 1969, which has played a significant role in the printing and publication industry in Upper Assam since 1922.

His father, Purna Chandra, bought the Reddish Jobber printing machine manufactured by London-based Furnival & Co., from Ashutosh Addi and Company of Calcutta in 1931. It was used to publish two books — Abhijan and Swaraj Sangeet — written by Dhiren Dutta and Sankar Chandra Barua respectively and Purna Chandra was subsequently arrested by the British for promoting anti-imperialistic works.

Others include the ones made by the US-based Challenge Machinery Co. of Grandheaven and Chandler & Price Co. of Ohio, Pyne & Sons of Otley in the UK, Cope Sherwin & Co. of Shoreditch in London and Miller & Richard of Edinburgh in Scotland, Germany’s Mansfeld Co. and two from Japan-based OMA Works and Murakami & Co., both in Osaka.


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