The Artists' Market houses a gallery collection of original Escher prints. If you are interested in buying or selling Escher originals, please contatct the owner, Jeffrey Price, at 203-846-2550 or jp@artistsmarket.com.

 

History and Prophecy: Appraisal and Evaluation

To answer a question relating to the evaluation and appraisal of artwork involves both a look at history and a gift for prophecy. Asking what something is worth sounds like a relatively straightforward question, but in fact it is one of most complex assignments for a professional in the art world, and the answer involves combining factual history with an attempt to forecast the future in order to quantify something that has more variables and different answers than one might expect. We must, above all, be reasonable and justifiable in our estimations.


Artwork can be sold privately, though dealers and galleries, auction houses, and even over the internet though websites such as eBay and Craigslist. Of all of these, working with a trusted dealer and specialist in the artwork being offered is often considered the most secure, stable, and reasonable way to achieve a fair price for valuable artwork.


There are several different definitions of value, and valuations for different purposes are going to yield different results. The value in an estate evaluation is different from the replacement value needed for insurance purposes. Often someone wants to know a fair price that would be received if a print is sold, and that value is going to be different from the price you might pay for that same print in a reputable gallery.


We can research the history of an artwork, but in fact we are attempting to foretell the future if we ask what a picture might bring in the future. Sometimes something as simple – and unpredictable – as a snowstorm on the day of an auction sale can affect the prices realized, and certainly swings in world events and economics are likely to have an effect on the prices paid for fine art.


If we look at historic sales of a particular artwork we certainly can get some interesting data. But even if information exists for past sales, that does not give an exact prediction of what the next sale might bring since the art market, together with the world economy as a whole, are in constant flux and subject to many unpredictable factors. There is no crystal ball in the art world that can tell us what something rare will sell for the next time it is offered, and we have no way to predict when a particular print might appear on the market.

 In the case of prints from the same edition we have to be aware that even if the image is the same, individual prints have defining characteristics that can dramatically affect value.


Most importantly, there is the matter of the condition of the print, since a print in poor condition can be worth a fraction of one in pristine edition. Prints can fade from excess exposure to light, and paper can be stained by poor hinges, mats, and backing boards. Often the defects are hidden within the frame, and frames should not be taken apart except by an expert. Every print has individual details, and there is seldom such a thing as a 'perfect print,' especially one that has been framed and displayed for years. Blemishes that may be inconsequential to some may be monumental to a connoisseur and expert in an artists’ work.


Prints can vary in the quality of the inking, the type of paper they are printed on, and the date of printing. Sometimes there are multiple editions of the same print. Even the particular numbering of an edition can be important: for example the first print in an edition may be perceived as having greater value than other numbers in the edition.
Sometimes the provenance of a particular print can affect value, especially if there is documentation directly from the artist regarding its history. If a print has come from a notable collection, has been published, referenced, or exhibited in museums this too can affect its desirability and value.


I am a respected expert in buying and selling artworks by M. C. Escher. Therefore, if you are interested in selling works by Escher I would be happy to examine them and make you a fair offer, an offer that is usually better than what you would receive from auction houses, internet, or private sales. I cannot give evaluations on prints I have not personally examined, and I don't generally appraise artworks for tax purposes or insurance.


Jeffrey Price
President and Escher Gallerist
Artists’ Market Inc.