A CONTENDER for the Pacific region’s oldest operating press is in a small print shop in Milne Bay, some 82 years after it is said to have been printing counterfeit banknotes in Melbourne.
Milne Bay Printing Services owner, Delsie Chariton, says the pedal-powered letter press was bought by Methodist missionary John Dixon in 1932 from Melbourne, and spent the next 71 years printing Bibles and other religious documents in numerous mission stations around Milne Bay and East New Britain.
A page in Papuan Islands Pilgrimage by the Dixon’s son Jonathan recounts how the press fell into the church’s hands.
“It had a particularly dubious past. It had been used to produce counterfeit banknotes. But it looked alright to this purchaser,” young Dixon wrote.
“While the former owners were on their way to jail, the printing press was headed for Papua to print books of the Bible, hymns, church magazines, and all the educational needs of the theological training institution.”