How many printers know what SAPPHIRE is about?

March 28, 2010 by  

There are still a significant number of people employed in the printing industry in Scotland. But would current employees in, for example, a brochure printing firm in Leith or a litho print company in the middle of Edinburgh, know about the importance of the print and publishing industry to 20th-century Scottish economic, social and cultural development.

About ten years ago three people, David Finkelstein, Sarah Bromage, and Alisair McCleery were involved in an initiative, with collaborative partners Napier University and Queen Margaret University College. The aim of the initiative was to document the history of the Scottish printing industry in the 20th century. The Scottish Archive of Print and Publishing History Records (SAPPHIRE), was a aural history project which was undertaken with a number of other Scottish organizations to create an archive on the Social and economic importance of the printing and publishing industry. A SAPPHIRE spokesperson said:

“It’s important that we remember the past is not just dry facts and statistics but also the detailed lives of real people. SAPPHIRE aims to give a voice to these lives.”

One interesting fact alone is that in the 1960’s the Scottish Printing industry employed between 5,000 and 7,000 people. There have been many market forces since that have reshaped the industry into its present form. There must be many people in the industry that would enjoy having a closer look at the movements which occurred in the Scottish print industry during the 20th century. Interested parties can find SAPPHIE in the Edward Clark Collection at Napier University, and exhibitions and publications on the history of the printing and publishing industry.

It’s interesting to think how printing started in Scotland when you next order your POS printing in Leith.