Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bright Future for Treasures of Our Past; Library Display for Artefacts

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bright Future for Treasures of Our Past; Library Display for Artefacts

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone

ATREASURE trove of documents and artefacts is to go on public display as the Newcastle Collection in the new City Library.

Yesterday, The Journal had a preview of intricate and historic items which, for the most part, have been stored out of sight for years.

There is engraver Thomas Bewick's work table, for instance. Library visitors might be surprised to see how small and elegant it is - in keeping with the delicate woodblock prints he created but somehow not what you might expect of an early 19th Century artist's studio.

You can't help but wonder if the scratches on the surface were the work of the great man himself.

The table is part of the collection of John William Pease (1836-1901), a businessman who spent 40 years collecting Bewick memorabilia and then bequeathed the lot to Newcastle Libraries.

Among many other Bewick items is his toolbox, which was acquired by Pease from the engraver's last surviving daughter, Isabella, just before her death at home in Gateshead in 1883.

Previously stored at the Laing Art Gallery, the tool box carries this inscription by Isabella: "This box is exactly as my Dear Father left it. It contains 20 gravers, burnisher and one eye glass." There is also an old photograph showing how the tools were arranged in the box.

One of the tasks now confronting Kath Cassidy, heritage service manager at the new library, is to replace the tissue-wrapped tools exactly as they appear in the photo and as Isabella intended them to be seen.

The Newcastle Collection brings together not just the Bewick Collection but many other small collections which constitute a compelling but little known part of Tyneside heritage.

A grant of pounds 429,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) means selected items can be displayed in a viewing room with special lighting and climate control.

These conditions, incidentally, would make the new library a feasible home for the Lindisfarne Gospels, should the British

Library ever agree to return the ancient book permanently to the North East.

Ivor Crowther, head of the HLF in the North East, said: "The Newcastle Collection is one of huge importance and it is vital that it is not lost. …

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