Yesterday we had our chimney swept and our friendly sweep, knowing that I am an ‘old-time printer’, brought along a box of assorted printing blocks for me to look at.
Along with the ubiquitous halftones, military shields and farm animals, one block caught my eye as I recognised it to be an original wood engraving. On closer inspection it was obviously engraved by a highly skilled individual and it was then that I noticed a signature on the side that identified it as the work of the noted 20th century wood engraver, Reynolds Stone (1900-1979).
The engraving bears a shield containing the heads of two dogs and a pegasus, above the motto ‘Arte et Scientia Ditamur’. This translates as ‘We are enriched by art and science’ and was the motto of the Mid-Essex Technical College & School of Art (now part of the Anglia Ruskin University). The fine detail of the lettering demonstrates Reynold Stone’s particular skill in letter carving and the leg of the terminal ‘R’ is wonderfully elegant.
Taped to the underside of the block I found a small, but stern, warning to printers, stating that the block is not to be printed and is to be used for the making of master printing blocks (electroplates) only. Needless to say, I ignored this note and printed, with great care, a small number of prints for my friends in the Letterpress Exchange Group.