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Humble Beginnings

1830

Humble Beginnings

The WC Penfold story dates all the way back to 1830, when an enterprising English book-binder named William Moffit established a small stationery business. Sentenced to seven years transportation in 1823 for stealing tea, Moffit arrived in the fledgling Sydney colony in 1827. When his sentence expired, Moffit set up a business, working as a stationer, book-binder, engraver and copper-plate printer.
His major success was as a stationer, both wholesale and retail. Hand-carved engravings on copper plates were used to produce letterheads, hotel bills, theatre tickets, labels and card for several commercial establishments. He even supplied good, mainly paper, to the Sydney Gazette. Moffit also formed a close relationship with the banks, printing cheque books, bank orders, promissory notes and drafts - something WC Penfold would continue for many years.

Success and progress

1880

Success and progress

In this decade, two brothers (William Clarke Penfold and Frederick Edwin Penfold) gained control of Moffit’s business. A time of modernisation began – and the business purchased several new, modern pieces of machinery – including, in 1898, its first linotype machine. The efficiency of this new machinery was a major factor in the increasing success of the Penfold business. While specialising in stationery – including paper, account books, law stationery and forms, envelopes and architects’ and surveyors’ materials - the retail business also sold stationery cabinets, ink bottles, pens, pencils and more. The wider business also expanded into several other related areas, including supply of artists’ materials, account book making, label printing, lithographic printing and designing.

A challenging time

1910

A challenging time

After the death of Frederick Penfold in 1914, a new company was registered: W.C. Penfold & Co. Limited. However, the outbreak of war – and the onset of severe drought in Australia – made for a challenging time. Many of the goods that Penfolds imported from Britain were no longer available – and to add to the problems, a fire broke out in the shop in 1915. Although the stock had been insured, dampness ruined much of it, and this, combined with the difficulties of supply, made it hard to keep up with customer needs. It was perhaps in response to this that Penfolds undertook an increased amount of printing – much of which was commissioned by Angus & Robertson. This included some famous titles, including C.J. Dennis’s The Sentimental Bloke (1914) and Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding (1918).

100 Years on

1930

100 Years on

By 1930, Sydney’s population had grown to 300,000 and W. C. Penfold & Co. Limited employed over 300 employees. The Pitt Street retail store continued to thrive – selling stationery, artists’ materials and postage stamps. To mark its centenary, the company published a book titled A Century of Progress in Printing, which chronicled the firm’s development over the years. Despite difficult economic circumstances in this period, things gradually began to pick up – and in 1937, the business opened a new factory on Elizabeth Street. Towards the end of the 1930s, the business saw continued expansion in all areas of their business.

A time of expansion

1960

A time of expansion

The 1960s was a time of economic growth in Australia. It was also a time of change within Penfolds - with descendants, William and John Penfold, becoming holding company directors in 1966. With the younger members in charge, a few changes were made. Unprofitable orders were reduced and then eliminated, management was made efficient and production was streamlined. With profits again on the up, agencies were established in Canberra and Wollongong, the retail store in Pitt Street was redeveloped and the business began a more aggressive marketing strategy, which included expanding interstate to Melbourne and Brisbane. By the end of the decade, the business focused largely on stationery, as well as packaging, retail and commercial printing.

A legacy continues

2012

A legacy continues

Today, WC Penfold has come a long way – yet our long-standing reputation for innovation and excellence remains. As a business, we are always looking towards the future, and to delivering the products and services that our customers need. In keeping with this commitment, we recently launched our all-new, high-quality range of WC Penfold stationery - which includes a huge selection of reliable products for both business and home. Today you can buy this new range in leading stationery retailers throughout Australia. As always, WC Penfold is a company proud of its past and proud of the people who developed it. The business remains 100% Australian owned, and resolutely committed to providing superior, affordable and trusted stationery products for a wide range of needs. For at least another 180 years.