Melbourne-based business partners Joseph Gibbs, Joseph Shallard, Alfred Henry Massina and William Clarson decided to start a branch of their printing and publishing firm in Sydney in the early 1860s. Contemporary directories show that the firm was established at 207 Pitt Street in Sydney by 1863, trading as Clarson, Shallard & Co., printers. By 1865 the firm had relocated to 140 Pitt Street, and by 1867 it had moved again to 108 Pitt Street. Around 1866 the original partnership had amicably dissolved, and the Melbourne and Sydney branches split: the Sydney firm continued trading as Gibbs, Shallard & Co. About 1877, Joseph Shallard returned to Melbourne, where he died in 1881. Whether or not Shallard's estate maintained an interest in the firm, it continued to trade under the name Gibbs, Shallard and Co. until it was bought out in 1892. About 1880, the firm moved to 70 Pitt Street, and from 1886 until 1890, Gibbs, Shallard and Co. inhabited a six-floor building at 84 Pitt Street.
Gibbs, Shallard & Co. quickly became an important publishing enterprise in Sydney. The firm seems to have specialised in lithographic printing, and their output included maps, cards, and engravings. They also published two periodicals with an important pictorial element: Sydney Punch, and the Illustrated Sydney News. Their printing activities in other areas were also extensive, however. Advertisements and directory listings described the firm variously as 'lithographic, letterpress and copperplate printers' and 'engravers, printers, account book manufacturers, lithographers, and publishers'. The firm were also the Sydney agents for the Australian Journal, and their book publishing activities included several volumes of poetry.
Gibbs, Shallard & Co. was ruined by a fire which originated on their premises and destroyed an entire city block, causing about one million pounds worth of damage, in the early hours of 2 October 1890. The Sydney Morning Herald described the fire as 'the most disastrous conflagration in the history of Sydney and indeed of Australia' (3 October 1890), and it certainly proved so for Gibbs, Shallard and Co. The building at 84 Pitt Street was 'utterly destroyed, there being nothing left but jagged and irregular pieces of the walls and a mass of smoldering ruins' (Sydney Mail 11 October 1890), and although the building and its contents were insured for a combined total of just under 43000 pounds, this amount was evidently not enough to cover the many expenses involved in replacing Gibbs, Shallard & Co.'s expensive machinery and stock in trade. Two years later the firm was taken over by the Melbourne businessmen Ernest McCarron and George Andrew Stewart.