Erie Rail Road Locos Watering


Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Erie Rail Road Locos Watering, etching and engraving, 1934, signed and number (# 2). Reference: Sasowsky 155, eighth state (of 8). From small group of impressions in this state (highest number located is #18, but possibly numbering was not in order; earlier states only 1 or 2 proofs.  On BFK Rives cream wove paper, with their (partial) watermark. In very good condition, with margins, 8 7/8 x 11 3/4, the sheet 10 3/4 x 14 3/4 inches.

A brilliant black impression.

Marsh has captured the grime, dirt, black colors of the trains and smoke, partly through his artistry, and partly through the difficulty he had creating and printing this plate. After making two proofs the etching ground collapsed, and he had to burnish and scrape a film of foul biting; the plate still shows spots, akin to the phospherous grains which etchers from the time of Rembrandt used to create tiny dots of black on their impressions. Marsh then repeatedly re-engraved the plate, and this accounts for the astonishing blacks, and the burr (in the smoke at right center, for example).  The final product was well worth the effort – it is arguably Marsh’s finest railroad engraving.

The number of prints that Marsh printed is not known precisely, but this print is quite rare, and many of the impressions are accounted for (e.g., #7 is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, #8 at the Whitney, #12 is at the New York Public Library, etc.).  This impression is #2.

On the size of Marsh’s lifetime editions, his famous quote explains the situation: “Since I do practically all my own printing, I do not limit the edition. The buyer limits the edition – he rarely buys, I rarely print.” Written on pencil at the bottom margin of this print, quite probably in Marsh’s hand, are the words: “Erie Locomotives Watering – $20.”