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It really is who you know!
SSar's Beast
So, after several months of half-hearted but regular attempts to find out more about the printer Stephen Noble Brown, who operated in Dunedin from about the 1860s to 1920s, I happened to mention my quest to a librarian in Victoria University's J C Beaglehole Room (a special collections room). She told me to email a lecturer in the school of information management, who teaches a course on book history. Wondering why the Head of the English Department had not recommended this lecturer (when I anxiously asked him for printing contacts), I did so.

She emailed me back this morning, with suggestions, and copied the email onto a colleague she thought I should contact.

That colleague emailed me this evening, saying that a) what I was doing sounded cool, and b) that there was a student in HIS colleague's class a few years ago who had written an essay about S N Brown, and that he could probably find the essay for me. Oh, and he copied the email on to that colleague.

I suddenly have an arsenal of experts all willing to help out. I love university networks. It's fascinating, and illuminating, that months of search terms can yield nothing that compares to the yield of a single email.

PS: Dutton's probate, which included no will (which I had half suspected) was a couple of scraps of near-decaying, very fragile paper, which was the bare formalities of consigning his estate (such as it was) to the public trust. I took photos with my digital camera. Basically, there was no information there (except confirmation that his last place of residence was Queenstown) but I felt happy that I'd gone and looked and recorded to the very threshold of available knowledge. First hand historical evidence FTW.