The technique of wood engraving developed at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, with the works of Thomas Bewick. Bewick generally made his engraving in harder woods than normally used, and would engrave the end of a block instead of the side. Finding a knife not suitable for working against the grain in harder woods, Bewick used the engraving tool the burin, which has a V-shaped cutting tip. Engraving on wood in this manner produced highly detailed images, usually quite unlike those produced by engraving on copper plates. Furthermore, unlike copper-plate engravings that quickly deteriorated, thousands of copies could be printed from engraved wood blocks. Since wood engraving is a relief process while metal engraving is an intaglio technique, wood engravings could be used on conventional print presses, which were themselves making rapid mechanical improvements during the first quarter of the 19th century. As a result of Bewick's innovation and improvements in the printing press, illustrations of art, nature, technical processes, famous people, foreign lands and many other subjects became more widely available.
Wood engraving as a reproductive (rather than artistic) technique has been displaced by advances in printing technology. Wood engraving is now used to create bookplates, fine art limited edition prints, and a few book illustrations and commercial artwork.
In rough chronological order
Donato Rico, (Don Rico)