Machines for the Trade

As printing machines became more complex a whole industry supplying machinery to the trade grew up. As a major centre of the printing trade, Edinburgh was also home to a number of these firms as well as firms supplying machines to allied trades such as paper makers.

The third edition of Kelly’s Directory of Stationers, Printers, etc, published in 1880, not only lists printers, publishers, bookbinders and stationers but also includes many companies making everything from ‘Bookbinders’ Thread’ to ‘Paper Making Machines’. Some of these firms were large operations and supplied printing firms throughout the world, including John Greig & Sons, of Fountain House and the paper makers’ engineers companies Bertrams of Sciennes and James Bertram & Son at the Leith Walk Foundry.

Greig’s made presses for printers, bookbinders and lithographers, and their output included envelope making machines, copying presses and numerical printing machines. Other companies who were based near Greig’s in the Fountainbridge area of the city were Somerville & Crombie who also made presses for the printing and bookbinding trades, as well as papermaking machinery, Walker & King who supplied the papermaking industry from the Caledonian Engine Works in West Fountainbridge. Seggie & Co were based further east in Broughton Market.

Archives have survived for some of these firms:

Bertrams Ltd, (Bertrams of Sciennes) machine tool and paper machinery manufacturers, Edinburgh, 1860-1983. National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh: ref GD1/779; GD419. Other records held privately National Register of Archives for Scotland: ref 0322

David Carlaw & Sons Ltd, envelope machinery manufacturers,etc, Glasgow, 1888-1976. Glasgow City Archives, Mitchell Library, Glasgow: ref TD935: Order books, etc. Other records held privately National Register of Archives for Scotland: ref 1924

James Bertram & Son Ltd, engineers and paper machinery manufacturers, Leith, 1847-1976. National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh: ref GD284