You will note that our ballpark valuations do not include specific dollar values. We are professional appraisers, thus it is unfair and unethical for us to give out dollar valuations at no charge when we charge others for this information. We offer these ballpark valuations in order to give you some idea of the general value of your item, but for us to give an actual dollar value, we must charge either for a “Professional Opinion of Value” or an appraisal. This is further explained on our appraisal page.
If your print or map has what we call “decorative value,” this means that you could sell it for whatever someone would pay to hang something that looks like it does on his/her wall. How much that would be depends on what the item looks like, considering factors such as decorative appeal, color, size, condition, frame, and so forth. This value varies by location, but you can get an idea by visiting local flea markets or auctions.
These items are generally not worth the cost of appraisal or restoration. If you like its appearance, enjoy it, but do not worry about its value. You can read more about decorative prints on Chris Lane’s Antique Prints Blog.
These are items which have some intrinsic value, but where it is not easy to realize that value through a sale. The value of these prints comes from their age, decorative appeal, history, scarcity or some other factor. However, for various reasons, it is very hard to sell these items for their “true” intrinsic value.
Some of the reasons such items are hard to sell include:
- They are out of style
- They are obscure so few buyers know about them
- They appeal to only a very small number of potential buyers
- They are in poor condition.
We carry quite a number of prints and maps like this; they are the sort of item which we are likely to have in our inventory for many years before finding the right buyer. These can be very nice, with considerable value, but until the right person comes along, they simply sit in our shop.
Such prints and maps are worth restoring and framing properly, and sometimes they can be worth appraising. However, in most cases you would still have difficulty in realizing the full value of this item if you wished to sell it. You can try an auction, but the item may not sell for much, and if you offer the item to a dealer, that dealer will have to build into his/her offer the fact that he/she might have the item in stock for many years. You will best realize the value of this item by keeping it and enjoying it, or by giving it to someone who will appreciate it, or by just holding onto it until you run across someone who is willing to buy it for its true value.
If a print or map has moderate value, this means that it is worth taking care of and enjoying, but also that you are unlikely to realize a very significant amount if you went to sell it. Generally such prints are worth restoring if you like them and want to keep them, but are not worth spending the money on to restore them if you plan to sell them, as you are unlikely to realize that amount of gain in the sale price. Generally such prints are also not worth having appraised unless you have a particular reason for needing such a specific value.
A print or map of significant value is one which you might want to consider selling or having an appraisal of it done.
If the item has condition problems or if it has been framed for more than about 10 years, it will probably need conservation and it almost certainly will need to be refit with archival framing materials. Our general advice to those who own prints such as this, where conservation or reframing is needed, is that if you are not willing to have this work done, you should seriously consider selling the item. Any old print or map that has condition problems or is framed improperly will almost certainly eventually fall apart and lose whatever value it has. That would be a shame for any item within this category.
There are quite a number of factors that determine the value of Currier & Ives prints, the most significant being, in order of importance: size, subject, and condition.
- Small folio: prints range from about $75 to $3,000
- Medium folio: prints range from about $150 to $5,000
- Large folio: prints range from about $400 to $60,000
- Lowest value: name prints, children, religious, memorials
- Middle value: foreign views, genre, historical, fruit & flowers
- Highest value: winter scenes, American views, sporting, western, trains
- Condition: important factors include
- Color and quality of impression
- Tears/holes, especially into the image
- Width of margins (though we think this is over-emphasized by many collectors)
A reproduction is a print copied photomechanically from an original painting, print or map. For further information on what this means, please visit our essay on “What Is A Print?”
Reproductions in general have only decorative value, and that at the lower end of the range. If your reproduction is in good shape and is attractive, someone may pay you something for it, but only whatever he/she would pay to put an attractive image on the wall..
Reproductions almost never have any intrinsic value. There are two main reasons for this: 1) the image was made photomechanically, without hand work and 2) more reproductions that are just as good can be made at any time, so there is no scarcity value.
Reproductions are rarely worth having appraised or restored. If you like its appearance, enjoy it, but do not worry about its value.