Twelve engravings are to come out of storage to produce limited edition images to help maintain naturalist Bewick's birthplace
Printing blocks carved by master engraver Thomas Bewick are to be pressed into service to raise the profile of his Northumberland birthplace.
The National Trust cares for Bewick’s boyhood home at Cherryburn in Mickley along with original blocks that he hand-engraved to produce his now famous prints of birds and other illustrations.
Twelve of these blocks will be used to produce 20 prints each, using the original methods that Bewick employed.
The 240 prints in total will go on sale during a special weekend at Cherryburn on Saturday and Sunday, November 7 and 8, from 11am to 3pm.
The prints include images used to illustrate Bewick’s A General History of Quadrupeds, A History of British Birds and Aesop’s Fables, plus tail pieces which ended the chapters of publications.
They include Jupiter and the Ass, Man and Weasel, The Drunken Husband, Platypus, Walrus, The Tarcic, The Wimbrel, The Purre, The Anthus Ricardi, Two dogs, The Moon and the Stile, Dog with Worms and Dog and Moon.
Bewick is thought to have hand-engraved the blocks during the late 18th century from box wood and went on to produce many more wooden blocks.
Inspiration for many of his works came from fables and moral tales, and his book The Fables of Aesop and Others was eventually published in 1818.
Christopher Bacon, master printer and a member of the Bewick Society, which promotes the life and work of Thomas Bewick, will be carrying out the printing of the impressions.
Mr Bacon, who lives in Allendale in Northumberland, said, “Printing is a passion of mine and I’m thrilled to be involved in using these wonderful blocks again for printing.
“Highlighting the work of Thomas Bewick is wonderful as he was an extremely clever man with a very rare talent for capturing real-life scenes.
“To ensure these prints are recognisable as recent works, I’m printing the blocks on to a modern French paper called Lana 1590 which helps to identify the prints as a modern production and ensures a quality, long-lasting product.
“This is dampened the evening before and stored overnight ready for use the next day.”
Mr Bacon said that suitable original blocks were only used for printing every 10 years or more to help conserve them. The prints are hand printed on a press dating from 1857.
“We print from them incredibly carefully, using hand-ground ink,” he said.
“The prints encapsulate the history, skill, artistic ability and vision of Thomas Bewick and will bring his work to the attention of a wider public.”
Kay Owen, National Trust visitor and site operations manager for Cherryburn, said: “We are thrilled to be able to use these wood blocks to bring history to life by showing how Thomas Bewick created his remarkable prints and to give people the chance to own one.
“If this sale is successful, we hope to do it again with different blocks from the unique Bewick collection.”
The limited edition prints will be on sale for £50 each with proceeds helping in the upkeep of Cherryburn.