In two earlier posts, I looked at a number of criteria that a collector should use in developing his/her collection. Today I will consider a final two criteria which do have a role, but not nearly as important as the criteria considered previously.
Price: Within the parameters of a collector’s resources, price should not be given too prominent a place as a criterion for deciding whether or not to acquire a print. It is often a mistake to pass over a print because of price when that print meets all the other criteria for collecting. Historical prints are too numerous in variety and too few in particular examples on the market for there to be established values for most individual prints. The market does determine a broad range of prices for many types of prints, but in most cases the place of an individual example within a given price range is determined by factors too varied to provide for a clearly “established” market value for that particular print.
It is wise to be aware of the general range of values for certain types of prints, for one should never pay an outrageous price. However, finding and comparing other examples of the same print in comparable condition can be difficult, and in most cases, if one does find a price discrepancy the cost difference will probably matter little in the long run. It is better to pay a bit more than one might prefer in order to acquire a desirable and appropriate print, for the chance to add that print to one’s collection may never occur again.
Scarcity: Scarcity can increase the value of a print. However, scarcity per se should not be of significance to a collector. A single surviving example of an inconsequential or uninteresting print is worth little even if very rare, while an important and fascinating print is desirable even if relatively common. Nevertheless, scarcity is a factor which should be taken into consideration, for if a rare print would be of value in a collection, its acquisition may be warranted even if other criteria are not fully met. For instance, it may be appropriate to acquire a rare print in less than good condition or priced at a premium, for that print might never again be available in better condition or at a lower price. (Click here to read a blog on the subject of print scarcity)
(Click here to go to part 4 of "Collecting antique prints")