Andrew P Watson

Web Developer

1857 Engraving – The Return (First Class)

Mon, 12/14/2009 - 19:01

For the past two weekends I’ve been helping a friend deal with his aunt’s estate. While cleaning out some items, he gave me what appears to be an original 1857 print titled “The Return (First Class)”. I’m not an antique specialist by any means, but I have a decent interest in this sort of thing, and have definitely seen my share of Antiques Roadshow.

I know a lot of these are reproductions, but I took a closer look when I got it home (out of the frame) and the image is actually pressed onto the paper. There are no “print dots” or signs of mass-production. In fact, you can clearly see the impression marks around the border from what I assume was the engraving plate.

I’ve done a little research, and learned the image was originally part of a set. The other (I don’t have) was titled “The Departure”, and my friend thinks he saw that in the estate as well. He’s looking for it for me.

The paper is great condition, and only has minor discoloration. I can’t believe how good condition actually, considering the “assumed” age. On the back of the frame, there are some papers glued to the wood. One is a letter to the directors of the “Branbury and Chatham Railroad”, dated 1875, requesting some sort of railway extension or something. It’s pretty cool.

I have no reason to think it’s a fake, it came out of an incredible collection of items from 1700 – 1900. I’m wondering if anyone has any information on this sweet Victorian-era antique? I’d love to learn more.

This thing is huge. I looked at the paper under a magnifying glass and it definitely looks “pressed” and not “printed”:

157 picture The Return First Class

The Return - picture on train

There is an embossed tag under the artist name:

The Return - First Class A Solomon

London published 4th april 1857 by E. Gambart and Co.:

1857 Engraving

Engraved by W. H. Simmons

Engraved by W.H. Simmons

If there is anyone that is reading this has any information, I’d love to hear it!

There is a lot of interest in this item, so I wanted to add that there is also some interesting paperwork attached to the back of the print. Apparently regarding some financial issues with the Cheltenham Railroad, 1875. Here are some images of the back:

back of old picture

Banbury and Cheltenham Railway

Text on the back of the picture

paper glued to back of the picture


This picture was my Grandmothers.I believe it was a wedding gift to her, but I'm couldn't swear on it.This must of been back in the late 1800.I was a little girl and just after the war she used to tell me stories about it. My gran told me that there was another picture, called the Return, which was also hers but she told me that she sold it to an American . How true that is I don't know

That looks an awful lot like Joseph Smith, king of the Mormons, speaking with Martin Harris and his wife. I might be wrong, but yeah – that’s my $.02.

I would like to buy it. Would you sell it to me? If positive, at what price? let me know Thanks Riccardo

Hi! Did you sell this etching?
andrew's picture

<p>I did not... It&#39;s still next to my desk in my office. I&#39;m trying to learn more about the documents on the back actually. It&#39;s a pretty cool piece!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

W. H. Simmons, the engraver, was my Great-great-grandfather.
andrew's picture

<p>Very cool. I&#39;m still looking for information on the documents used on the back of the print. It&#39;s a train-based scene, with a bunch of train-based documents on the back. Very interesting, and I&#39;m wondering if it was done on purpose as a gift or something.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Here is W.H. Simmons Wikipedia entry if you are interested

I have the pair - so if anyone would like to buy them - make me an offer !

Here are both engravings :

having trouble finding out about this print.. Any help would be nice.. Thanks

Is there a definitive website that I could go to to verify my W.H. Simmons engraving?

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