“The printing press is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of modern times, one sometimes forgets which.” said Sir James Matthew Barrie (author and creator of Peter Pan) in a speech upon receiving the grand title of "Honorary Freeman and Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Stationers" which company became The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in 1937 (more usually known as The Stationers' Company) at the Stationers' Hall in London, July 3, 1925. Click here to read more about this venerable, 600-year-old, City of London Livery Company, established in 1403.

Barrie Matthew portraitPeter Pan drawing

I distinctly remember my mother smiling, shaking her head and uttering a favourite old French saying, «Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose». Or, in English, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. I find this is a truism and particularly relevant in South Africa today.

One hundred and three years after the first "Code of Ethics" was published by the Typothetae in "The Typothetae Tickler" of Kansas City, Missouri, the newly formed board of the South African Institute of Printing (SAIP) has drawn up a revised code of ethics for professional members of the printing, packaging and signage industry.

For interest and reference, here is the orginal code of ethics as published in 1915.

Typothetae Tickler

Text of the Declaration of Policy and Code of Ethics

Adopted 1914.

Organised October 18, 1887.

The members of the Typothetae dedicate their best efforts to business uplift and social service and, to this end, pledge to themselves:

1st. To give full value for every dollar received.

2nd. To charge fair prices, viz., known cost plus a reasonable profit.

3rd. To subscribe to and work for truth and honesty in business; to avoid substitution, broken promises, unbusinesslike methods.

4th. To co-operate in establishing and maintaining approved business ethics.

5th. To be original producers and creators not copyists.

6th. To be promotive, looking to the needs of the customer, analyzing his requirements and devising new and effective means for promoting and extending his business.

7th. To place emphasis upon quality rather than price, service to the customer being the first consideration.

8th. To merit the support of buyers of their product by living up to the spirit as well as the letter of these standards.

9th. To develop, by co-operation with other departments of the Association, an ever-strengthening bond of union to the end that the service rendered to advertising by the graphic arts may achieve its highest efficiency.

10th. To aid in securing just and harmonious relations between employer and employed by establishing honorable conditions of employment.

So here we are 103 years later, starting to get the message out to potential SAIP professionals who will subscribe to a set of ethics worthy of today’s business environment in South Africa.

So remember, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Or in Zulu, "Ngokuqhubeka kwezinto ziguquka, kugcina umehluko ungasabonakali."

SAIP ethics creation

Article submitted by members of the SAIP Marketing Committee pictured here:

Thandi Moyo, Zama Zulu, Keith Solomon and Isaac Chauke (not in picture).