HISTORIC printing blocks used to produce advertising material have been rescued from obscurity.

Limestone litho plates used to produce the 1882 catalogue for Walter MacFarlane and Co's Saracen Foundry, in Possilpark, ended up being used as makeshift paving slabs.

But after a group of enthusiasts pooled their financial resources, they bought them at auction.

Dr David Mitchell, director of conservation at Historic Scotland, successfully spearheaded the appeal bid.

The foundry produced the ornate fountain in Glasgow's Alexandra Park.

The A-listed fountain dates from 1901 and stands 40 feet tall with a 38 foot cast iron basin and is deemed to be one of the most significant iron fountains in Europe.

Foundry bosses showcased the fountain at the 1901 International Exhibition before gifting it to the City of Glasgow.

It stood in Kelvingrove Park for more than a decade before it was resited in the East End park in 1914. Council chiefs spent £22,000 on improvements in 2000.

Dr Mitchell was coaxed to launch a nationwide fundraising appeal just 48 hours before the rare collection of more than 60 litho stones were due to go under the hammer after they had been discovered in a back garden in Glasgow.

He said: "We could not believe what we were seeing. We identified the printing blocks as being from the 6th edition of the company catalogue, from around 1882.

"How they got there we don't know - the limestone blocks had been 'recycled' as paving slabs, face down in the dirt for decades.

"That so much detail was preserved is remarkable and we were incredibly excited. We hoped they were to find a home with Glasgow Museums.

"Walter MacFarlane and Co started in 1850 and finally closed in the late 1960s, with three generations at the helm - all called Walter Macfarlane.

"The founder came from a modest background and ended up living in Park Circus.

More than 250 people gave or pledged £9000 to allow Dr Mitchell to bid for the historic printing blocks.

He and the others hope the blocks will eventually go on public display.

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk