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Rome MDCCCXLIX by William Little

£250.00 Approx $323, €296.91

Code: 53647

Date: 04.05.1850

Wood engraving uncoloured as issued; published by William Little. Presented with the Illustrated London News of May 4th 1850.  Overall sheet size:  115.3 cms x 45.8cms.  Image size: 970mm x 386mm.  Spectacular. Would be sent rolled in a tube. Laid on linen, quite pronounced fold lines where previously folded else very good condition (two holes extreme right and left corners).

‘The small wood blocks were drilled and channelled underneath for the insertion of brass bolts and nuts which gripped the pieces of wood together "without line, speck or flaw", thus making a printing surface of the size required. If a large illustration had been drawn on the surface of six blocks bolted together, the pieces could be unbolted and distributed to six engravers and when their work was finished the pieces would be bolted up again, thus saving much time.

How did these remarkable craftsmen, the wood engravers, work - The block, which was steadied by the thumb and fingers of the left hand, lay on top of a leather bag filled with sand. During daylight hours, the bag rested on a bench close to a window, but at night, an oil or gas lamp provided illumination. The engraver's head, with a watchmaker's magnifying glass clipped to one eye, would be bent down near to the block while the thumb and fingers of the right hand gently pushed the sharp front edge of the cutting tool - the graver - to shave away narrow slivers of wood so as to leave whites and tints between the darker lines of the picture.

If we look through a magnifying glass at these magnificent wood-cuts, we must marvel at the skill and patience of those wood engravers and regret that such artistic craftsmanship is now almost lost for ever’. see  The large wood block panoramas were given free to subscribers as a very successful advertising gift and are now much prized.