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Introduction: The Birth of American Artist Printmaking

Module by: Stephen Fredericks. E-mail the authorEdited By: Ben Allen, Frederick Moody

Summary: The author's introduction to Stephen A. Fredericks' New York Etching Club Minutes.

Minutes of the New York Etching Club -- buy from Rice University Press.

In the 1882 catalogue for the New York Etching Club’s first independent exhibition at the National Academy of Design, club founder James David Smillie published a colorful, highly romanticized account1 of the group’s first meeting, held five years before:

About twenty interested artists had gathered one evening, by invitation, in the studio of a brother artist, “to assist.” The scene was no doubt fittingly picturesque. Let us imagine a central light, properly shaded, above a table upon which are the simple appliances of etching. Aloft, a great sky-light is filled with dusky gloom; remote corners recede into profound shadow; easels loom up bearing vaguely defined work in progress; screens and rugs, bric-a-brac, all the aesthetic properties that we may believe to be the correct furniture of such a place, assume proper and subordinate relations. Our imaginations having furnished the background, let us go on with the history.
Those twenty interested artists formed an impatient circle and hurried through the forms of organization, anxious for the commencement of the real work of the evening. Copper plates were displayed; grounds were laid (that is, delicate coatings of resinous wax were spread upon the plates); etchings were made (that is, designs scratched with fine points or needles through such grounds upon the copper); trays of mordant bubbled (that is, the acid corroded the metal exposed by the scratched lines, the surface elsewhere being protected from such action by the wax ground), to the discomfort of noses, the eager wearers of which were crowding and craning to see the work in progress.
This process being completed, in cleansing the wax grounds and varnish from the plates the fumes of turpentine succeeded those of acid. Then an elegant brother who had dined out early in the evening, laid aside his broadcloth, rolled up the spotless linen of his sleeves, and became for the time an enthusiastic printer. The smear of thick, pasty ink was deftly rubbed into the lines just corroded, and as deftly cleaned from the polished surface; the damped sheet of thin, silky Japan paper was spread upon the gently warmed plate; the heavy steel roller of the printing press, with its triple facing of thick, soft blanket, was slowly rolled over it, and in another moment, finding scant room, the first-born of the New York Etching Club was being tenderly passed from hand to hand.”

Smillie’s catalog copy notwithstanding, the meeting was both a gathering of artists and a business initiative. Smillie and his constituents were intent on creating and serving a potentially lucrative market in the emerging American art world, which was characterized at the time by a gold rush of artist organization. American industries of all kinds were expanding, and New York’s youthful native art world, following suit, saw talented and ambitious artists claiming newly created niches. Smillie himself had worked towards forming an etching club for years.

In 1877, the year the New York Etching Club was founded, there was no recognized arts capital in the United States. But within a relatively short time, building on the strength of established cultural institutions, enormous population growth, the Industrial Revolution, and a post- Civil War economic expansion, there was an explosion of artist organization locally that would eventually see New York City take center stage on the national art scene, with graphic arts at the center of the action.

New York was replete with well-known artists’ studio buildings in the late 1870s. Most of the artists at the first meeting of the club lived or worked in one of three—including Smillie’s studio building, where that first meeting was held. The attendees knew each other from other associations, including the National Academy of Design, the Salmagundi Sketch Club, and the American Water Color Society. (In reality, the New York Etching Club was an offshoot of the American Water Color Society.)

The Industrial Revolution brought along with it a rapid expansion of the graphic arts. Men and women all over New York were filling—and endeavoring to control—all manner of newly created markets. When the New York Etching Club was formed, there were already models for such societies in New York, and Smillie was also well aware of organizational activities among etchers in France and Great Britain, and the staging for such in Philadelphia and Boston. Exclusive artists’ clubs could offer many benefits, from the sharing of technical expertise to promoting artists and their genres. Smillie was eager to promote etching and see it develop into a viable business endeavor. By 1882, his work was producing dividends: The public embraced the New York Etching Club’s first stand-alone exhibition, and members’ works sold well.

The original twenty-one members of the New York Etching Club were all established and even important artists in other genres. Most were experienced painters; others were photographers, architects, designers, or recognized for their commercial trade work in engraving, lithography and mezzotint. There were a few experienced etchers among them, but none was a practicing “artist-printmaker” by today’s standards. With a few exceptions—most notably, Robert Swain Gifford and Henry Farrer—etching as a medium for artistic expression was new to most of the club’s first members.

Smillie’s ambitions aside, many of the etching novices appear to have been motivated to learn etching more out of aesthetic interest than business interest at first. There was, after all, no real market for “artist prints” in the club’s early years.2 At the club’s founding, no one foresaw the boom in the collecting of etchings that lay just ahead. Prior to late 1881, the New York Etching Club functioned as much as a social club organized around a growing interest among artists in “free hand” or “painter etching” as it was a group interested in becoming serious printmakers of saleable works.

In 1883, for example, the noted critic M. G. van Rensselaer reflected3 upon the New York Etching Club as:

an association formed by a few earnest students of the art to incite activity by brotherly reunions and to spread its results by annual exhibitions. The young society went through that struggle for existence which seems ordained for babes of every sort—even for those which, like this artistic infant, are well fathered and tenderly watched over. The public was indifferent, and some of the club’s own members were too much absorbed in other work even to heed that condition of membership which prescribed that each should produce at least two plates every year. But though its survival was due to the pains and sacrifices of a few men who deserve well of the republic, the Etching Club is more potent than any other influence in aiding the progress of the art among us and in winning the public to its love.

Early on, many of the practitioners of etching were fascinated by the process, including the accidents that could occur while the plate was submerged in mordant. Chance atmospheric accents and the plates that produced them were prized by the American artists. They quickly found means and techniques for controlling their “accidents,” and the employment of these new techniques enhanced the general feeling of creative freedom associated with etching. Artistically derived special effects differentiated the etchings from the highly standardized prints associated with engraving and lithography—arts dominated by schools of technique. The more artists experimented with the etching process, the more they shared their technical discoveries at club meetings, in private studios, and in books and articles they wrote. This widespread sharing of technological discoveries set the stage for a practice and code of conduct that is at the core of American artist printmaking today.

During the earlier years of the New York Etching Club, the color and quality of printing papers took on great importance to the printmakers. They perfected Chine collé, a paper laminating process, and began experimenting with alternate print matrixes, such as silk. Soon the atmospheric effects of palm-wiping plates (a signature of many early club member prints) gave way to new methods of carrying tone. Larger and larger plates were being worked by important artists, and by the late 1880s color inks began appearing regularly in prints. Soft ground, a technique that could impart elements of drawing and some of the qualities of lithography, was widely introduced in artist studios and used to superb effect. The end result of all of this technical development and aesthetic specialization was the division of artists into roughly defined competitive schools of practice.

The burgeoning popularity of the new free hand etchings during the mid-1880s coincided with a post-Civil War boom that helped create an expansive American market for art. The boom stimulated advances in graphic arts printing and the development of new reproduction technologies in mechanical engraving, photography, photogravure, and color lithography. These events helped usher in the establishment of new fine art print publishers, dealers and collectors, along with a consumer market for new magazines and books full of art criticism and articles—illustrated with original etchings. The merger and success of these efforts formed a new paradigm of sorts as artists’ clubs and societies for nearly every aspect of fine art appeared in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, among other large American cities. And at the hub of much of the excitement for most of the 1880s was the etching needle.

It is important to note that the rise of etching in the late nineteenth century was not a movement unto itself. Labeling the period’s activities in etching as an isolated movement discounts the extraordinary activity in related graphic arts—and their importance to the artists. What began in 1877 with the formation of the New York Etching Club can best be placed as part of a golden age in the arts generally and the already flourishing graphic arts movement in America at the end of the nineteenth century. A great deal of the appeal of free hand etching to both artists and their public was rooted in an already well-established taste for drawing—the most fundamental of the graphic arts. Interest in etching was supported by a broader movement that included work in graphite, charcoals, pastel, crayon, and innumerable forms of commercial illustration work.

Figure 1: Stephen Parrish, An Etcher's Studio, 1884. Etching. (Courtesy of Ms. Rona Schneider.)
Figure 1 (graphics1.jpg)

Our public libraries and private institutions hold a staggering amount of material and supporting documentation on this graphic arts movement. Such publications as American Art Review, The Art Review, The Art Journal, The Magazine of Art, The Critic, The Quarterly Illustrator, Scribner's, The Century Magazine, and The Art Amateur contained innumerable announcements, reviews and criticism of graphic art exhibitions, and reproductions of individual prints. Countless other illustrated publications were designed around and focused upon their graphic art content.

In the years just prior to the founding of the New York Etching Club, both the Salmagundi Sketch Club and the Art Students League of New York (both still active today) were organized around drawing and sketching classes. As early as 1876, the American Water Color Society was setting aside separate space—the “Black & White Room”—for the exhibition and sale of drawings, charcoals, and etchings. Shortly after Smillie launched the New York Etching Club, the Tile Club and Scratcher’s Club were established, as were numerous similar groups in related graphic art media, including woodcut and lithography.

The minutes reproduced in this volume highlight many of the roles played by the New York Etching Club in this larger movement. They also highlight the club’s influence: In 1880, for example, in a sequence of events that began with the November 1880 minutes entry, the etchers were invited to exhibit both at the February 1881 exhibit of the American Water Color Society, to be held at the American Academy of Design, and at the Salmagundi Sketch Club exhibit, to be held in the same venue in December 1880. Opting enthusiastically for the latter, etching club members accounted for thirty-four of the 130 etchings by nearly fifty artists exhibited at the “The Third Annual Exhibit of Black & White Art.” Numerous the other etchings were contributed by such future club members as Thomas Moran and Stephen Parrish. No etchings were exhibited at the American Water Color Society’s February 1881 exhibition.4

It would have surprised no one then familiar with the prevailing art world that the New York Etching Club artists jumped at the chance to exhibit in the Salmagundi Club exhibition rather than the American Water Color Society’s. The significance of this decision has been widely overlooked, however. Not only were the early Salmagundi Sketch Club exhibitions quite popular with both artists and the viewing public, but the New York Etching Club members also wanted to be aligned with other active graphic artists, and have their new etchings seen alongside other widely practiced forms of graphic art. When their members were granted the autonomy they apparently sought, the New York Etching Club returned to the watercolorists’ fold in February 1882,5 with a triumphant showing of works by notable artists of the day, including Frederick S. Church, Samuel Colman, Stephen J. Ferris, Seymour Haden (founder of the Royal Society of Painter Etchers, London), Thomas Moran, Stephen Parrish (Maxfield’s father), Joseph Pennell, Charles A. Platt, R. Gifford Swain, J. A. McNeil Whistler, and James D. Smillie.

By the mid-1880s, members of the New York Etching Club could be forgiven for being a little heady about their success and the popularity of their work. New books about etching and printmaking, including S. R. Koehler’s Etching: An Outline of its Technical Processes and its History (1885), and J. R. W. Hitchcock’s Etching in America (1886), were appearing with increasingly frequency. Commercial production of new print editions and group portfolios abounded, and exhibition opportunities for artist printmakers were expanding exponentially. But just below the surface, subtle cracks in the club’s foundation were beginning to appear.

In August 1886, two short, rather enthusiastic notices referencing the New York Etching Club appeared in Art Review Magazine. One noted the forthcoming auction of an important collection of paintings, the catalogue for which would be illustrated with reproductive etchings by several club members. The other cited club plans to exhibit the same prints during the annual show that would open to the public at the end of January 1887. Later, reviews of the club’s important exhibition in publications, including The Critic on February 5, were less than flattering. Reviewers raised questions about the inclusion of large numbers of reproductive prints done by artists after other artists’ paintings, commercially commissioned and published prints, and excessively large plates. The criticism highlighted growing fissures in the club over divergent commercial ambitions and aesthetics among its membership.

A year later, in the February 24, 1888, club minutes, the club member Hamilton Hamilton proposed “excluding from future shows reproductive etchings and returning as far as practical to the original status of a painter-etchers exhibition.” The issue was resolved with the decision that “work will be received at the future exhibitions of the New York Etching Club only from individual etchers, except at the request of the Club.” The decision was intended to exclude submissions by most publishers and dealers to future shows. In June 1888, The Critic reported a refined version of the decision stating that “the New York Etching Club has announced that at the next exhibition the size of plates will be limited, and no work will be received from publishers. This step has been rendered necessary by the amount of commercial work now executed by all but the very best etchers.”6

By 1888, then, an influential group within the New York Etching Club strongly favored a commitment to “original” prints over “reproductive” prints. This same group appears to have favored aggressive commercial production of large to unlimited print editions that served existing relationships with galleries and publishers. Another group held conflicting points of view about the meaning of “originality,” particularly relating to reproductive etchings after their own paintings. This group also favored limiting edition sizes of new plates and imposing strict quality and integrity standards on the commercial ambition of publishers and galleries. On the surface, these differences could have threatened to split the club apart, if not entirely destroy it.7

Announcements began appearing in the press that summer about the formation of the new Society of American Etchers.8 The Magazine of Art noted that “Thomas Moran has been elected President, Frederick Dielman Treasurer, and C. Y. Turner Secretary of the new Society of American Etchers with the view of elevating the art of etching in this country, and limiting editions by guaranteeing to the publication of each member the stamp of the Society, in the same way that the English prints are protected by the Printseller’s stamp.”9

The new society’s first exhibition was held that fall at the Ortgies Gallery in New York City. The show included etchings by Thomas Moran, Mary Nimmo Moran, Charles Platt, Stephen Parrish, and Kruseman van Elten, among others. A November 25, 1888, exhibit notice in The New York Times included mention of reproductive work after an artist’s own work by Thomas Wood, and another by William Sartain after a painting by Percy Moran. Thomas Moran exhibited his print “Mountain of the Holy Cross,” known to be after his painting of the same title. Clearly, reproductive prints were within the mission of the group. Members of the Society of American Etchers were to be known as artists endeavoring to protect their etchings from commercial abuse and misunderstanding through control of edition size (commercial and private), quality, and a guarantee of publishers’ integrity.

The formation of the Society of American Etchers should not be misconstrued as a political response to the resolution passed by the New York Etching Club banning all but “original” etchings. It is unlikely that there was a great deal of hostility between the groups over their respective positions regarding originality. It appears, rather, that the founding of the Society of American Etchers was an effort to protect the integrity of the New York Etching Club by providing an alternate vehicle for stands that could not be reconciled with favored, and by then traditional, club practices. The American Society of Etchers provided shelter for a different consensus about what constituted an original print, and a different way of assessing the artistic value of prints. These artist printmakers were free to exhibit without drawing the ire of critics down on the New York Etching Club. But they were not without their detractors in the greater art world.

Despite the differences between the New York Etching Club and the Society of American Etchers, members of both groups shared fierce commitments to craft, quality, and professionalism—standards that helped form the earliest basis for artists identifying themselves as American artist printmakers. The minutes contain records of several discussions club members held about merging with the Society of American Etchers (though not, unfortunately, about issues central to their potential incompatibility). Nonetheless, their shared values, along with their debates over originality, integrity, and print edition size, continue today to inform the modern American artist printmaker.

When the New York Etching Club was founded, while there were numerous technically skilled reproductive and commercial etchers, there was but a small handful of local artists working “artistically” with the medium. By the late 1880s, there were hundreds of accomplished American artist printmakers. These men and women began taking sides on matters of aesthetics, commerce, and the merits of various print-making materials, including metal plates, etching needles, grounds, mordants, inks, and printing papers. By then, many of these artists had their own etching presses and were known as skilled printers. They passionately debated the pros and cons of plate-wiping techniques, false-biting, and roulettes, and they ferociously engaged each other in conversation over a question that still confronts us today: “What constitutes an original print?” There is a reference in the February 19, 1892 minutes to the organization of a “Special Retrospective Exhibition of the Best American Etchings made since 1876,” for presentation at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. Although the retrospective never materialized, the minutes entry demonstrates that 1876 stood as the year in the minds of artists when their experience as American artist printmakers officially began.

The New York Etching Club ushered in the age of American artist printmaking by inspiring the creation of countless etchings by their members and hundreds of other artists, and thus left in their wake a priceless legacy of art work—a tiny portion of which is reproduced in this volume. The club’s beginnings took place in the midst of the growth of a wider market for works on paper, for decorative books, limited-edition illustrated books, and the first American “artist books” incorporating original prints. In the wake of the etching boom, there remained used etching presses (including some that made their way into schools), new technologies, and a new generation of largely self-trained printmakers, some of whom would pass the skills of their craft on to others. In less than a decade, these first adepts grew from amateur practitioners of etching to artist printmakers concerned with every facet of the making and marketing of fine prints. This remarkable explosion was part of a genuine paradigm shift in the arts.

Some writers have suggested that the demise of the New York Etching Club was largely due to the collapse of the commercial market for etchings, brought on by a combination of over-saturation of the retail market with mediocre work by minor artists in concert with the actions of greedy publishers and unscrupulous dealers. While these factors did play a role, there were other, greater forces at work. The 1888 release, Important New Etchings by American Artists,10 which contained prints by Otto Bacher, Charles Platt, J. D. Smillie, and William St. John Harper, also included an essay by J.R.W. Hitchcock, entitled “Future of Etching,” in which Hitchcock warned that the advent of photogravure posed a threat to etching. Hitchcock attributed the growing interest of artists in the medium to photogravure’s superior reproductive qualities, a familiar intaglio process, and a growing popularity with the public.

It is not known why The New York Etching Club minute- taking came to an end. When the minute records abruptly stop in December 1893, the mood seems optimistic and forward-looking despite a faltering national economy. In the 1893 New York Etching Club exhibition catalogue, James D. Smillie had referred to the “bright future” of etching, and he expressed similar optimism in such journals as the Quarterly Illustrator. By 1894, however, some critics were discussing etching as a thing of the past. The Sun published an extensive article that year, entitled “The Fate of Etching,” which chronicled the decline of etching as it lambasted dealers and publishers for etching’s drop in popularity.

There were other distractions for artists and the public. By the early 1890s, the Art Nouveau movement was in full swing on the east coast, the Plein Air movement was in high gear on the west coast, and woodcut artists and potters were helping drive an expanding decorative arts and crafts movement on both coasts. There was also a national trend towards the collecting of Asian arts. The New York Etching Club further aided and abetted its demise in the face of these trends by strictly controlling its formal membership, thus excluding many promising young artists who might have sustained the club well into the twentieth century. The fact that many of the early club members were established as artists in other media also helped hasten the decline. When the market for etchings ebbed, many of the early artist etchers— Stephen Parrish, for example—fell back on their painting careers.

Although etching died out as the most visible force in the subsiding graphic arts movement, a few highly successful artists, including Thomas Moran, continued making large prints that sold well. James D. Smillie went on making beautiful prints and became a teacher of etching, and Joseph Pennell would go on making prints for years, ultimately contributing to a revival of the medium in the early 1910s. Other, later members of the club—most notably Charles Mielatz—continued experimenting with the medium, taking the art of etching off in new “urban” directions.

The American Water Color Society continued to show etchings after the New York Etching Club ended its formal exhibitions in 1894. Evidence of such is noted in reviews of their exhibitions in The Magazine of Art in 1895 and 1896, and as late as 1898 in The Art Amateur magazine.

A few years after the death of James D. Smillie in 1909, a fledgling group of artist printmakers calling themselves the New York Society of Etchers organized in 1913. New York Etching Club member Joseph Pennell exhibited in the group’s first show, in 1914, as did several relative newcomers, including Kerr Eby, Bertha Jacques, George Plowman, and Ernest Roth. When this group returned in 1916 for a second exhibition under the banner of the Brooklyn Etching Club,11 the list of exhibitors included Charles F. W. Mielatz, the rising American artist printmakers John Taylor Arms, John Marin, John Sloan, and dozens more. The first revival of American etching was under way, with artist printmaking positioned to play an important role in the future of American art.

Footnotes

  1. The New York Etching Club Exhibition Catalogue, 1882. This account was reprinted a few years later in J.R.W. Hitchcock’s Etching in America (New York: White, Stokes & Allen, 1886), a telling indication of the late-nineteenth-century public’s growing interest in the new art of etching. Each copy of the book was illustrated with an impression from the etching plate created during the technical demonstration at the first meeting.
  2. The etchers did not create the market for print sales in America. On the contrary, there had existed for decades a well-developed market for decorative engravings, lithographs, wood engravings, mezzotints and reproductive etchings. The new “artist etchings,” or “painter etchings,” however, were a departure from mass- produced prints. Lithographic artists largely shared a common graphic art style, as was the case with wood and metal plate engraving. Broadly standardized graphic arts styles rendered these media predictable in appearance and somewhat commonplace in the eyes of the public. The evolution of the “painter etcher” provided many of those already working in the printing trades an artistic outlet and untapped market for their “free hand etchings.”
  3. M.G. van Rensselaer in The Century Magazine, Vol. XXV, No. 4, February 1883, page 486.
  4. See The American Water Color Society’s 1881 exhibition catalog. See also The Salmagundi Sketch Club’s Third Annual Exhibition of Black & White Art, catalogue documenting the December 18, 1880, to January 1, 1881, show at the National Academy of Design, New York City.
  5. The American Water Color Society had enormous influence on the development, support, and organizational structure of the New York Etching Club. James D. Smillie was the watercolor society’s president in 1877, the year he founded the etching club. Throughout the etching club’s active exhibiting years, their elected and appointed officers were often interchangeable, by name if not title, with those of the watercolorists’ society.At times the organizational ties between the New York Etching Club and the American Water Color Society made for a virtual identity crisis. For example, the February 11, 1881 minutes record the unanimous decision by members for a resolution “applying to The Water Color Society for space in their next exhibition.” The minutes also note that “the President [R. Swain Gifford] and Secretary [Henry Farrer] were directed to bring the matter before the Water Color Society at its next meeting.” The officers of the AWCS for the 1880/1881 season included Henry Farrer (Secretary), and a Board of Control made up of New York Etching Club members J. C. Nicoll, R. Swain Gifford, and Frederick S. Church.
  6. The Critic, June 9, 1888.
  7. Politics played an ever-present role in the club’s life. The club’s organizational structure provided for a closed decision-making process, particularly regarding the election of new members. See Article II, Section 4, of the club constitution. Election of members was taken seriously and is one of the few activities well documented in the minutes. Etching ability and artistic skill played an important role in the nomination of new members, although membership in the influential American Water Color Society was an unspoken mitigating factor. For example, in 1888, AWCS member Reginald Cleveland Coxe was elected to non-resident membership on the strength of fewer than a half-dozen etchings, which were reproductions of his own paintings. This could only have served to alienate many early and regular exhibitors like John Henry Hill, Champney Wells, Stephen Ferris (a remarkable artist and etcher), Benjamin Lander, John Millspaugh, and F. De B. Richards, who all ceased exhibiting independently with the club shortly after Coxe’s election. Attendance at meetings appears to have been another hot button. There were many “resident members” who appear to have rarely or never attended a meeting and are never cited for nonattendance, while others were summarily dismissed over the years for nonattendance.
  8. The Critic, August 11, 1888.
  9. The Magazine of Art, August 14, 1888
  10. Important New Etchings by American Artists. New York: Frederick A. Stokes & Brother, 1888.
  11. Keeping track of etchers, etchers’ organizations, and any given organization’s provenance and membership can have a researcher wobbling between the vexing and the entertaining. When John Taylor Arms, for example, tried his hand at a brief history of the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, his “Annual Report of the President, 1932,” which accounted for how the Brooklyn Society of Etchers came to be known as the Society of American Etchers, also took a futile stab at the daunting task of documenting late-nineteenth- century etchers’ organizations.While Arms’s report states that the Society of American Etchers was formed in 1880, the New York Times, The Magazine of Art, The Art Amateur, and The Critic Magazine all reported 1888 as the year of the society’s founding. It was generally reported that year that Thomas Moran had been elected President, Frederick Dielman Treasurer, and C. Y. Turner Secretary of the “new” Society of American Etchers. The November 25, 1888, New York Times also reported that the new society was holding a small exhibition in The Ortgies Gallery (on lower Fifth Avenue) and that “Most if not all of the members are of the New York Etching Club.” That exhibition included etchings by Thomas Moran, Mary Nimmo Moran, Charles Platt, and Stephen Parrish, among others. Mr. Arms’ annual report also stated that “The incorporation of the society as the Society of American Etchers, and its amalgamation with the earlier Society of American Etchers, was accomplished on December 17, 1931,” and that “by joining” the original Society of American Etchers, the Brooklyn Society of Etchers “becomes, in a sense, the oldest print organization in America.” Actually, there were several older American printmakers’ groups: the Boston Etching Club, formed in February 1880; the Philadelphia Society of Etchers, formed in May 1880; and the Cincinnati Etching Club, formed in fall 1880. Oldest of all was the New York Etching Club, which held its first meeting on November 12, 1877. My research into late nineteenth- century printmakers has occasionally led me to early twentieth-century print exhibition catalogues, including some from the Brooklyn Society of Etchers. Particularly interesting are those revealing connections to such nineteenth- century printmakers as Frederick Dielman, Mary Cassatt, Edith Loring Getchell, Charles Mielatz and Joseph Pennell, among others. Years ago, while perusing microfilm spools at the New York Public Library, I discovered an otherwise unrecorded exhibition catalogue of a printmaker’s society named the New York Society of Etchers, documenting their first exhibition in 1914. Not only was it a namesake, previously unknown to me, for the group that I founded in 1998, but it also was linked, through some of its membership, with the late-nineteenth- century New York Etching Club. One of the quiet thrills of working on the research leading to this volume has been the discovery of this series of links, through these overlapping memberships, leading back from today’s New York Society of Etchers to that seminal organization, the New York Etching Club.

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Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

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Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

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