How to Value Prints

Prints can be an exciting way for the art collector who is interested in a less expensive option to own a piece by a famous artists.

Prints

woman sitting below three cat prints

From screen prints, lithographs, etchings, or woodcuts, the possibilities for prints are endless; it is no wonder that today so many people are intrigued by their artistic relevance and value. Do you have a print that you think may be of some worth? Perhaps you would simply like to know more about your item? The following guidelines will be able to assist you in your pursuit to acquire an accurate value for your print!

What is a print?

A print is any work of art created in a set of duplicates through a process of transferring. There are a variety of ways in which to create a print, with methods constantly evolving alongside time and technology; some procedures are centuries old, while others are characteristic to the modern era. However the most common mediums are screen printing, lithography, etching, and woodcutting. Each of these methods require their own specialized equipment, materials, and are unique skill sets of their very own. A print is different from a mere copy of an original because the artist is personally involved in its creation process, in collaboration with the highly skilled printmakers of a studio.

Condition

The first matter to take into consideration when beginning to estimate your print’s work is its condition. It goes without saying that an item in poor condition will see its value decrease exponentially. It is important to examine your print and check for any signs of compromise in its quality, including but not limited to water damage, excessive folding or crumpling, tearing, fading, staining, and so on. The better condition your print is in, the more valuable it will be. However in the case that you have a particularly rare or sought after piece, some allowances may be made for damage if not too severe.

Person screenprinting

Rarity

In accordance with the effects of supply and demand, if the rarity of your print exceeds its demand, its worth will be much higher. As the nature of prints dictates that there must be multiple editions, their monetary value will naturally be less than an original painting for example, however that is not to say that a print cannot be considered scarce. It is all dependent on how prolific the artist was in their printmaking practice; Pablo Picasso created prints throughout his whole life, while Barnett Newman only had short bursts of printmaking throughout his career. Although just because your print is rare does not mean that it will possess a great value from this fact alone; if there is no demand on the market for an item then it’s monetary worth will be very little regardless of its scarcity.

"Some notable printmaking studios are Tyler Graphics, ULAE, Long Island Tyler Graphics, Gemini G.E.L, and Paragon Press."

Printmaking Studios

Aside from the artist of the print, another factor that can positively impact its value is which printmaking studio it was created at. A way of determining where the print was published is to look for a blindstamp, which is an inked, stamped, or embossed mark used to identify a particular studio. Many collectors will seek out works from a specific printing studio, as there are some that are historically significant due to their contribution to printmaking technology, or the artists that have produced work there. Some notable printmaking studios are Tyler Graphics, ULAE, Long Island Tyler Graphics, Gemini G.E.L, and Paragon Press. 

Importance of Signatures

One characteristic of your print to take note of is its signature. While a signature can be particularly helpful in learning more about your item, it is not necessarily essential for a print to be worth anything; so do not fret if your print only bears an initial, a stamp, or even no signature at all. Some artists, particularly in the case of larger portfolio editions, only sign the title page. Both Picasso and Andy Warhol used stamps to sign their print work, and artists like Lucian Freud and Richard Diebenkorn only initialed their prints.

Appraisal

The single most important step to take in acquiring a truly accurate estimate of value for your item is to seek professional appraisal, as even the most meticulous and observant amateur is prone to error and misconception. Luckily here at Value My Stuff there are experts in the printmaking field available to provide professional valuation services so you can know what your item is worth in no time!

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