Erie RR and Factories


Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Erie RR and Factories, etching and engraving, 1930, signed in pencil lower right and numbered (10) lower left [also signed and dated in the plate]. Reference: Sasowsky 90. Second state (of 6). In excellent condition, with margins, 8 x 12, the sheet 9 x 13 1/8 inches, archival matting.

A fine impression, printed in black on a cream laid paper.

Although this impression is numbered, suggesting therefore that it is the final state,  some areas, e.g., the area under the chimney, are not as shaded or dark as the final state. Moreover, there are numerous engraving lines which have not been burnished, and others which suggest changes to be made in later states.  Marsh’s notes on this print indicate that he added engraved lines in as many as 6 states, and continuously burnished these lines as he proceeded. So the appearance of partially burnished lines in this impression, and the incomplete areas of work, suggest that this is a proof, which at some point Marsh numbered as if it were a last state impression. We frequently find that Marsh’s notes are inconsistent with the state progression, although it is unusual to find a proof numbered as if it is part of the edition.

In Thomas Craven’s Treasury of American Prints (1939), Marsh is quoted as saying in response to a question about the size of his editions: “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. I usually print fifteen or twenty and sell one or two in the next five years – so why limit the edition?” (That was in 1939; today of course Marsh’s etchings are treasured as icons of American printmaking in the ’20’s and 30’s.)

Sasowsky does not give the number of proofs made of this print; he accounts for only three, one of which is numbered 2, and notes that the highest numbered impression found is 46.  None of this tells us with certainty how many impressions were made; indeed, only a smattering of impressions have appeared on the market in recent years.