How can you tell if an etching is authentic?

For the foreseeable future, I will publish once a week on Monday.


There isn’t much going on in the summer, so I’ve decided to reprint one of my most popular blogs, How can you tell if an etching is authentic?, published originally on 7/29/2009.

Louis Icart pulling a proof of Joy of Life from the etching press

Louis Icart pulling a proof of Joy of Life from the etching press

First one has to understand the process of producing an etching. The artist does his work on a copper plate, so the “original” is a copper plate that’s rarely for sale. To produce the image, the plate first is hand-inked. Then the paper is laid down on top and the two pass together through the etching press, under tremendous pressure. The pressure transfers the image to the paper. Since the copper plate has thickness, it “dents” the paper around the edge of the image. This “dent” is called a plate impression. You can see it and feel it around the edge of the plate. So #1. A real etching has a plate impression.

Since the process is not photographic and there is no printing press, there are no dots in the image. If you use a magnifying glass to look at a photograph in a newspaper, you can see the entire image is made up of dots. Use a magnifying glass with an original etching and there are no dots. So #2. An authentic etching does not have any dots in the image.

An authentic pencil signature of Louis Icart

After the edition is printed by the master printer, it is given back to the artist for hand-signing. Prints or other fakes have copies of the signature. So #3. Authentic etchings are hand-signed by the artist, usually in pencil.

The blindstamp of the Louis Icart Society

In the case of Louis Icart, a raised seal called a blindstamp, was created in mid-1926, and was usually found in the lower left corner, just below the image. Most Icart images produced after this time have the blindstamp, but don’t use this information as a crutch. There are some fake etchings that have fake blindstamps. And conversely, there are many authentic Icart etchings that do not have blindstamps. Supposedly the etchings without blindstamps were not for export from France, but personally I’ve found too many instances where this rule doesn’t pertain. If you’re still not sure, you need a professional appraisal.

Because of this post I have received many requests over the years for authentication of etchings by artists other than Louis Icart. I am only an expert in the works of Louis Icart, not other artists. So please, if you have questions about your etching, don’t send them to me. I really can’t help unless the artist is Louis Icart. And remember, there is a fee of $125 for authentications and/or appraisals.


The Baltimore Art, Antique & Jewelry Show is now only four weeks away, at the end of the summer, August 30 – September 2, 2018. We were forced to give up shows like Denver. Unfortunately the Baltimore show promoter has moved the show one week later than usual, to the Labor Day weekend. The show used to be held over the Labor Day weekend, but that was many years ago. The show is wonderful, so we’ll continue to exhibit there regardless of the change of dates.

We’re still very much in business between shows, so please don’t hesitate to email or call. I recently listed some of the new items on my website and will list more every week. Click Philip Chasen Antiques to take a look. I will make every effort to actively list new items as often as time permits. I always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on my website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. And remember to keep reading my blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.