[FALWASSER, Henry, editor]
The Auckland Times. Tempora mutantur Nos Non mutamur in illis. Vol. 1 Tuesday November 8 1842 No. 17
Auckland : Printed (In a Mangle) and Published by Henry Falwasser, Sole Editor and Proprietor, 1842. Large folio sheet, 2 leaves (integral), printed recto only, in a variety of printing types on a washing mangle; subscriber’s (?) names ‘Mr. & Mrs Sim’ in brown ink beneath the masthead; tear to blank corner of initial leaf; original fold lines with some mild discoloration.
An exceptionally rare copy of this curious publication, one of New Zealand’s pioneering newspapers. The issue of November 8 1842 is not held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Dating from the early phase of British settlement, prior to the first Colonial Parliament (1853), The Auckland Times was owned and edited by Henry Falwasser. The first issue was printed by Moore at the Government Printing Press and issued on September 5 1842. After only a few issues having been printed at the Press, the acting Governor, Lieutenant Shorland, prevented Falwasser from having use of the Press. Falwasser’s resourcefulness, however, allowed him to continue publishing. He collected all the old printing type that he could find, and by employing an old washing mangle continued to print the weekly paper in his own house, using coarse, spongy paper. The result was a crude, yet ultimately effective production that used an astonishing variety of typefaces and depth of impressions. What had started life as a newspaper whose intention was to be uncontroversial and not to take political sides now became a voice of dissent against the Governor’s perceived attempts to stifle an independent press. Over the ensuing months, until the last of the Mangle newspapers was issued on 13 April 1843, Falwasser was able to refine his printing technique to some extent, improving the quality of the newspaper. The copy we offer here is from one of the earliest Mangle editions.
“There can be no better proof that Falwasser was a man of determination than his initial decision to launch his paper in August 1842. After all, in the previous thirteen months Auckland’s first two newspapers had come to grief – virtually killed, let it be said, by the hostility of Governor Hobson’s officials who had a morbid fear of Press criticism.
Perhaps Falwasser thought his paper would survive where its predecessors expired because he was determined to steer clear, as best he could, of politics. In his first issue he laid down his policy as editor. Though the Auckland Times would ‘exercise the irrepressible POWER OF TRUTH’ it would ‘be untrammelled by any party’ since ‘dissensions in our infant community can only hinder our progress’.
But quickly the Times was driven into opposition to officialdom. You will easily understand why if you appreciate that Falwasser had hoped to buy up the plant and press of the recently defunct Auckland Standard. However the Government forbade him to. In an early editorial Falwasser bitterly denounced what he believed was a Government attempt to destroy the liberty of the Press by monopolising all printing plants in the capital …
Copies of the Times are rare: but preserved in the Auckland Public Library are isolated numbers which show the typographical ingenuity of Falwasser. Some issues have a curious patchwork appearance. As one set of type was used up, Falwasser would work his way through his assortments of founts: canon, Baskerville, non-pareil, brevier, italics, Gothic and so on.
One particular letter was in very short supply. This was the lower-case ‘k’. So ; Falwasser made do as best he could, using capitals, Gothics, even German text. And when no ‘k’ of any sort was left, Falwasser represented his ‘k’ by leaving a gap. The effect was quaintly hilarious.
Falwasser laughed, it seems, at his own efforts, for he was not a pompous man. All the early issues bore the imprint ‘Printed in a mangle and Published by Henry Falwasser; at the Mangle, Chancery Street’. Yet he also believed he had been enabled by his ‘ponderous revolver’ – as he once called his mangle – to ‘strike a blow at would-be despotism’. ‘We consider our mangle an ingenious and honorable triumph over as contemptible and sneaking an attempt to stifle the press as was ever perpetrated.’
As time went by, Falwasser gathered fresh type from odd quarters. So the appearance of the Times improved. But it went into recess on 13 April 1843. later in the year, Phoenix-like, it rose again, using up-to-date type and plant imported from Sydney.
The Times continued until 17 January 1846. A week later Falwasser died. It’s somehow fitting that the Mangle newspaper and its spirited proprietor should quit the Auckland scene together.” (Russell Stone, Associate Professor of History at the University of Auckland. Originally published in Art New Zealand 4, February / March 1977)