Do You Know…about N.C.'s first press? - Carolina Country

Do You Know…about N.C.'s first press?

Do You Know…about N.C.'s first press?

10 dollar bill printed by Davis (photo by N.C. Museum of History)

On June 24, 1749, James Davis printed the first official publication for the N.C. colony at its official press in New Bern.

Although printers had been active in some colonies for more than 100 years, N.C. delayed buying a press. The provincial government liked to control information distribution and feared challenges to its authority. The colony couldn’t finance a press and farmed out printing work to presses in other states.

Complaints by Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston in 1736 prompted the Assembly to begin the process of hiring a printer and acquiring a press. In 1747, Johnston appointed James Davis to the position of public printer. He held the job for 33 years and printed at least 100 titles. His first task was likely the printing of currency.

The colony’s first official publication was the “Journal of the House of Burgesses of the Province of North Carolina.” Colonial printers used a wooden printing press, and a good, stout pressman could turn out 250 impressions in an hour.

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