We receive a large volume of e-mails every day inquiring as to the value of a particular antique globe, map or print. Many people own or inherit interesting old objects and artwork, and naturally they want to know what these things are worth. We are not certified appraisers, and regret we cannot provide that service. Also, it would not be possible to ensure an accurate appraisal of an item without seeing it in person. However, we have put together this document to educate the consumer as to how to go about obtaining a reliable appraisal.
As general guidance, we can say that there is a wide variation in valuation depending on if an item is to be sold at wholesale or retail. For any individual item its authenticity, decorative appeal, rarity, and condition are important factors in determining value. Values at auctions can often provide guidance, but there are often wide price variations that relate largely to how well the item was promoted at the auction and whether it attracted at least two determined bidders.
Here are our informal recommendations for finding the value of prints, maps or globes that you have, with links to online resources:
The American Society of Appraisers may be of help in finding a qualified professional appraiser. You will find their web site and a "Find an Appraisal Expert" form at http://www.appraisers.org/.
You can also check various online antiques auctions and portals to try to find what similar items are selling for in the marketplace at large.
Determining the authenticity of prints involves numerous factors. The best alternative would be to show the print in person to a legitimate expert, since publication histories may be complex, spanning decades or even centuries. Sometimes an expert's past experience, subjectivity and judgment come into play. Nonetheless, here are a few tips (subject to our disclaimer for all free advice in this section):
If you have a print that is similar to one on our website, if it is in fact from the identical series, the image size and engraved plate sizes should be about the same as those listed on our website. The appearance will be fairly similar, though hand-coloring can vary, and disparities in the condition of two prints can make them look quite different. Sometimes reproduction prints use a different typeface or type size for the titles on the prints. However, there are sometimes different editions or formats of authentic prints. Thus, your print might vary from ours and still be an antique from a different edition.
Antique prints are on antique paper. Prints made before the mid 18th century generally are on laid paper, on which you can see vertical and horizontal chain lines if you hold it up to light. One set of lines will be very fine, the other set of lines will go the opposite direction and be about ¾ of an inch to 1.5 inches apart. There often are little impurity bits in early laid paper since it is made of rag pulp. 19th century prints are on a variety of papers.
Antique engravings or etchings should have a plate mark, the indented impression of the rectangular copper or steel plate when the print was made. But sometimes the platemark has been trimmed off.
Color prints from the late 19th century and earlier are generally hand-colored with watercolor paint, though sometimes the plate from which they are printed was colored (like a color-printed aquatint, or a chromolithograph).
Prints from the late 19th century and earlier are made by traditional print processes (e.g. etching, engraving, stone lithographs) rather than photomechanical. On 20th century photo-process prints that reproduce antique prints, a magnifying glass generally reveals the colored dots of halftone screens, or other characteristics of modern printing. Sometimes 20th century reproduction prints bear the name of the 20th century publisher who reissued them.
Horse, sporting and maritime engravings and etchings were generally issued in the early to mid 19th century, most popularly in England. Classical genre prints were popular from the late 18th century, and through the early 19th century. As a rule of thumb, about 200 prints were made, whereupon the plates from which the prints were made became worn.
Thereafter, sometimes the plates were re-engraved, especially the skies, and additional prints were restruck. Restrikes were made throughout the 19th century, in the early part of the 20th century, and some are still being made.
Also, since the prints were popular, sometimes reproductions were made by a photo-process printing method. These prints are sort of like posters.
Generally, early strikes are the most valuable, restrikes less valuable, and reproductions not valuable. Value also depends on desirability of image, artist, and engraver, condition, size, rarity, etc.
Determining whether a print is an early strike or later strike is sometimes difficult. An expert can often judge the quality of an early strike, or confirm that the paper it is printed on is proper for the period. To determine the authenticity and date of your print, it is best to show it to an expert in person, out of the frame.
To retain the value of a work on paper when it is framed, make sure the framer does the work to museum specifications with archival materials -- acid-free mats and backing materials and proper hinges (not tape). The best material to use is museum rag mat board. Non-archival materials such as corrugated cardboard and chip board can cause permanent discoloration which diminishes the value of a print.
If you wish to offer an item for sale to us, follow the steps below. E-mail a JPEG image of the item accompanied by the following information:
Please send the above information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you know if we are interested in purchasing the item from you.
Thank you for your interest in the George Glazer Gallery.
All text copyright George Glazer 2002-2005.