Thursday, September 24, 2009

Print conservation & restoration

Back in June I posted a blog about prints that are found in old frames. One of the things I discussed was that many of these prints were in bad condition and needed "fixing up." I've had a number of follow up questions on this topic, so today I'll discuss in more detail the issue of print conservation and restoration.

The first thing to say is that for prints it is crucial that those with condition issues at least be conserved (the difference between conservation and restoration is that the former concerns not allowing the print to get worse and the latter with trying to take the print back to its condition before it started to deteriorate). I love the Antiques Roadshow and this program has been helpful in raising people's awareness of antiques and various issues related to antiques. However, there is one "lesson" people have learned which is sometimes misapplied to prints.

Anyone who has watched the program a number of times will probably have seen at least one segment where the appraiser comments that the item being examined was nice, but would have been worth considerably more had it not been restored. A table that would have been worth tens of thousands in "original condition," but now worth only thousands because it was cleaned and its patina lost. As a result of this, we often get people coming in to the Roadshow proudly showing us a print which they didn't restore because they wanted to preserve its value.

Unfortunately, the lesson about not restoring furniture does not apply to prints. The "problems" associated with furniture aging are not generally destructive of those objects; in contrast, the "problems" associated with the aging of prints often are destructive. Acid, mold, foxing, waterstains and many other problems one typically finds with prints will eventually cause those prints to be destroyed. Thus prints with aging issues, in contrast with furniture, do need to be conserved to retain their value.

A print that is acidic will have its paper continue to breakdown, eventually becoming brittle and falling apart. Foxing and mold will spread and will also lead to the eventual destruction of the print. Waterstains can cause the paper to weaken and eventually rot away. A print glued to a backing will be harmed both by the glue used, and also by being attached to a backing which likely will eventually fall apart itself, at the same time destroying the attached print.

What this means is that for almost all prints with condition problems, it is important to conserve them in order to preserve not only their value, but their existence. Sometimes the condition problems will not progress very quickly, so that the destruction of the print may be far off in the future, but these problems do not go away unless the print is conserved.

Restoration goes beyond conservation, by trying to return the print to its earlier condition and appearance. This is more a question of taste and value than conservation. One has to conserve a print for it to continue to survive, but once conserved a print needn't have its foxing spots or waterstains removed, the darkened paper lightened or whatever. Our usual policy is that "tasteful" or "moderate" restoration is desirable.

Certainly, in most cases, restoration increases the value of prints (again, unlike in many cases with furniture). For one thing, most conservation processes will restore the print at the same time, so if one sees a print with the appearance of condition problems, one assumes it is in bad shape. Also, one of the main purposes for which people acquire prints is for decoration and a print that has been properly restored looks better than one that hasn't.

Still, with prints some of the same factors come into play that cause furniture collectors to seek out antiques that don't look too pristine, that look like they are wearing their age. Many print collectors want their prints to look like antiques, not modern copies with bright white paper, etc. This means that any restoration done should be done with care so that the print is not over-restored. Foxing and stains can be removed and acidic paper lightened, but the print shouldn't end up looking bright white and spotless. Likewise, one can make repairs and fill losses, but there is nothing wrong with a print showing some signs of its age. This is a subtle matter and it is important before having any print restored that you and the restorer have the same idea of how you want the print to end up.

Conservation/restoration is a fairly expensive thing to have done. For a typical small folio Currier & Ives print, with just standard condition issues, it might cost about $150 to $200 to restore. Those prints with worse conditions issues (if they are laid down or badly stained, for instance) or prints of a larger size, will cost even more. This obviously means a serious expense for the owner of antique prints and it is something that is a regular concern for us at the Philadelphia Print Shop.

There are some prints where it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money to fix them up unless they have a lot of sentimental value. If a print is worth only $50 or so, then it seems ridiculous to pay $250 or more to fix it up. However, even if a print is worth only about the same as the cost of the restoration, or even a little less, it might make sense to fix up the print if you like it or it means something special to you. It is not always easy to find the same print in better shape, and antique prints do retain their value (assuming they do not deteriorate in condition), so it is reasonable to make the investment in preserving the print even if the value doesn't quite equal the cost.

Some people resolve this problem by trying to restore the prints themselves. We do not recommend that owners do this, as most of the means that non-experts use to "restore" their prints actually cause the prints harm in the long run. If the print is worth restoring, it is probably worth having a professional do it. If an owner really wants to do his/her own restoration, then do some reading and get the proper materials so that the job is done right. While we do not encourage non-professional restoration, a good resource for anyone interested in the subject is the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

A final few thoughts on this subject... First, you should keep this issue in mind when looking to buy an antique print. Many prints that you find in antique shops or at auction need restoration. You might, for instance, be able to buy a nice small folio Currier & Ives print at an auction for, say, $50, which might seem like a good deal when you know that a print gallery might sell it for $150. However, if you figure that you need to spend $150 or so to restore it, it becomes clear that this isn't such a good value.

Finally, we hate to see antique prints be destroyed by inaction. Certainly there are some prints of low value or that are relatively common where the cost of fixing them doesn’t make sense, but if you own an antique print that needs to be fixed and don’t want to pay to have this done, perhaps you should consider selling the print to someone who will fix it up and then buying something that doesn’t need any work. It is not good to simply ignore the issue of prints that have condition problems. Whatever value they currently have will leach away as the prints continue to deteriorate.

82 comments:

  1. I have a print from an engraver Thomas Landseer "Stag at Bay" which is in a frame with glass and the back, which I partially exposed, is lined with a copy of The Record (Philadelphia) 1878. The print has some staining issues and needs restorative work. It is rather large. Any thoughts on how I can determine value prior to deciding on restoration, though I wish to restore...regardless. Joseph JKloza@aol.com

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  2. You can get an appraisal or "email appraisal" (the latter of which is less expensive, but that does cost money. Generally free appraisals are worth what you pay for them. Because of the size of the print you have, it will probably cost a fair bit to conserve. There are a couple questions on whether it is worth spending that money. If you plan to sell the print, the question is whether you would gain extra value in the sale compared to what you spend. I doubt that would happen. The second question is whether you could buy the print in better condition for less than the cost of conservation. I doubt it in this case. So, if you like the print and want to keep it, I would say go ahead and have it conserved. If you don't like the print, it makes more sense to sell it as is.

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  3. I have the original proof of etching The wounded Hound by Richard Andsell, it has a hole in the top of the print but otherwise good condition is it worth getting restored. Sharon Drew

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  4. If you like it, absolutely. This is a nice print and you would enhance its value (and also help to preserve it) if you have it conserved. Good luck.

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  5. I have a print of "the first reading of the emancipation proclamation before the cabinet" It has been in the family for generations and was just given to me by my parents. I am interested in getting restored/repaired. It is in an old frame that measures approx 46 x 32. Is this recommended on a piece that appears to be widely available?
    -DF

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  6. This is a terrific print, which I have written about elsewhere in the print blog. It is definitely worth restoring and preserving. It is interesting you say "widely available." This is, of course, a relative term. This print was issued in greater numbers than most nineteenth century engravings, but it is still not in any sense "common." You tend to see it around because it is such a great print than anyone who has one for sale publicizes it quite a bit. It is a wonderful print and does have some significant value. Please fix it up or at least sell it to someone who will fix it up. It should not be left to die!

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  7. I bought a print in its original frame. It seems very old and has a very old canvas back with a fancy "copyright picture" monogram on the back of the canvas and a very old label on the frame that says "My "first ear-rings" and further "published fine art association,London" amongst other things.The print is signed Richard A. Muller. the print has many areas that are cracked from something probably pushing haphazardly here and there on the back canvas but no real chips or pieces missing. Could you tell me what kind of print this is when it is over canvas an should I have it professionaly restored. And lastly,What is its possible value? Ps. It isnt and doesnt look like it has ever been under glass.Should I at least conserve it by having a framer put it under glass. I have never seen a print like this ,its definately not an oil painting but its not like any pressed prints ive seen. what do I have ,Help! Thank You, Ron

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  8. It sounds to me like this is a chromolithograph. The facts that it is on canvas and that the surface is cracking and that it was framed without glass are all things that are fairly typical of chromolithogrpahs.

    As to having it restored, that is something you will have to decide for yourself. I do not know the print in particular, but it sounds like a print that would have "decorative" value (as explained elsewhere in my print blog). If it is attractive and can be fixed to good shape, then this value will be reasonable and if you like it, then it is worth fixing. If you plan to sell it, I doubt you would get back your investment.

    I hope this answers your questions.

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  9. I have a print entitled "Inez by Maurice Sterne." It has the remnants of what may be a signature by the artist and states below the print: This is an original printed American Artists Gelatone facsimile and was created in the United States of (unreadable). Someone had glued a matte onto the front face of the print and the print has been glued to brown cardboard. My question is how do I ascertain value and decide what to spend on conservation.
    Thanks Deirdre

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  10. In general it is not financially worthwhile to conserve any facsimile, except perhaps some of the better Audubon elephant facsimiles. A facsimile, not matter how made, is a reproduction. This doesn't mean they are not nice, but they do not have any value beyond decorative. Most facsimiles do not have enough decorative value to warrant the expense of restoring. Also, facsimiles are much more common than originals, so there is often a chance you can find another example in better shape for less than the cost of restoration.

    If you love a print and cannot find another and it is worth it for you (in terms of enjoying the print) then there is no reason to not spend the money on restoration, but on a pure financial basis, it just doesn't make sense.

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  11. I recently came into possession of an old German prayer book titled "Die ewige Anbetung". It has a separate page that states it was printed in Colonia,8/21/1866.Its publisher I believe is Baudri.It measures 4.5"x 3". It`s leatherbound with a cross( broken) with some kind of pearlized flower and branch treatment in metal adorning the cover.The pages are gilded. It has a small springloaded closure.

    The condition of the binding is entact and reasonable except for the fact that the text is completely unglued.So my question becomes should where do I begin.I live in southern NJ.

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  12. First, you need to realize that the value of the book does not warrant the cost of having it restored. Prayer books of the 19th century just do not have much value.

    If you do want to have it restored, I would look for rare/used book dealers in your area to see if they do book repair. You can also contact us as we offer that service.

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  13. Chris,

    I have an antique print of a bird's eye view of my hometown in Italy that was printed in the mid-1700's. I made the mistake of inserting it in a clear plastic sleeve that was supposed to be for "long term conservation" of works of art, but the end result was not too good. The print started darkening, especially at the folds, within a few months. I since then removed it from the sleeve (obviously) and put it back in an album I bought years ago in Italy and meant specifically for the preservation of antique prints. The print is approx. 17x20 inches, but I can easily get you the exact measurements.
    How can we get to an estimate for restoration?

    Thanks! Gabriele

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  14. i have two prints i took down from my mothers attic that she gave me..after a long search i have identified them..anton shutz..an dry point engraving of lower manhatten viewed from govenors island..1927.it definately needs restoring as it is glued to something and yellowing from acids..the other is a dry point engraving by andrew karoly of the supreme court building and it is in better shape but has some mat burn and is also glued to inferior backing browned from acids..was quoted 250 or more for restoring by restoration service..i am an artist and photographer and have my walls covered with my work...www.theartbybart.com..where would i find someone interested in purchase for restoring themselves..told value in good condition in 350 to 425 dollar range..is there somewhere were i could sell at lower price to students doing restoration themselves??do members of your org. have a specific site to put on??found an identical print of karoly's supreme court building on e bay starting bids at 350...mine looks as good but is glued to inferior backing..would like to sell to someone interested in restoring for themselves or a collection..ant ideas??

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  15. I have aMaxfield Parrish print fromThe House of Art NY. It is in good shape but has what looks like small brown spots throughout it...is it worth trying to restore it?

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  16. There are, as noted above, many factors in deciding if it is worth restoring a piece of art. However, the Parrish prints are nice and have enough value that it would make sense to consider restoration, especially if you plan to keep the print.

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  17. I have a Thomas Moran chromolithograph "Grand Canyon from Hermit Rim Road" that seems to have some acid staiin issues. It is very large and I'm sure expensive to restore. Do you think it would be worthwhile?

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    1. If this is an original print, then I would say yes; if a reproduction, then no. However, if an original and you intend to sell it, I doubt you would get back the cost of the restoration in extra money when you went to sell it. But, to preserve a fine antique print, definitely have it fixed up.

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  18. I have a folio size lithograph of The Prophet, by McKenny and Hall that has some foxing. Is it
    worth restoring?

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    1. As discussed, there are many factors involved with whether or not to conserve, but an original McK&H print is a nice one and so it would not be a foolish thing to have it restored.

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  19. If a print from the 1930's is glued to cardboard, can it be restored at all and for how much? It still seems somewhat nice and I have the opportunity to buy it (maybe). In mint condition it would be worth maybe 4,500, it's about 36 by 22 inches.

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  20. What a wonderful service you provide here.

    I have an etching of a cottage with a creek in the foreground. It has the artists name in the lower right corner of the actual etching. It is signed "E. L. Field" in pencil below the etching in the lower left corner. A horseshoe is drawn in the center of the boarder below the etching. In the lower right hand margin below the etching, it is signed in pencil "W. H. Shelton". In the top left boarder it reads Copyright 1887 by "C. ...ner, 17 E 17th St. N.Y". It measures just under 9" x 22". The paper is brittle and has several tears but to me they look repairable. This print has been in my possession for 50 years or so but I don't recall where it came from. I'm not particularly enamored with the subject, but I hate to see i deteriorate any further and would like to have it retored/preserved to the extent affordable. What do you advise? Thank you.

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    1. This is a typical "etching revival" print, which is the type of print Field is well known for. It sounds like it can be both deacidified and the tears repaired, though it will likely cost a fair bit. Still, it is certainly best for the print if that is done. You need to find a local paper conservator. I would suggest contacting a local museum or university to get a name.

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    2. Denise, your print is what is called a Remarque (or remark) proof. The printer is C(hristian) Klackner who was a very successful and reputable dealer in the 19th century. I have read that the Remarque Proofs he printed numbered only 25. That little horseshoe is the "remark" which is a graphic engraved just for the remark proof print run. It is then sanded off prior to the next run which is called the artists proof run (and has the original signatures of the engraver and also sometimes the artist of the original work. This was another limited run prior to the general printing which would not have been signed. Also, the remark and artists proof runs do not have the title of the work in the lower margin as the general print run does. So, in short, your print is fairly rare.

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  21. I have a conquistador print by Keynaldo. its very large and framed without glass, it has a lot of scratches. I was thinking of water coloring over all the scratches myself being its in a style that would make it easy to blend in the new brush strokes,but wondering if is worth anything. thanks

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  22. I have two old prints. Both are in poor condition, with much foxing, torn edges, creases, etc. One is the Mater Dolorosa (printed in block at top of print) and (bottom left of print says: Painted by Reni) and on the back is pencilled in a date in 1862. This has been in my family all those years. The artist was Guido Reni. The second print we found hidden inside a frame on the back of an old watercolor (also had been in our family for years). It appears to be a lithograph for an advertising product or play (is in color), says Mr. Pickles across the top and bottom left corner (partially torn off) it appears to say ?P. Morgan & Co. It shows a turn of the century gentleman sitting relaxed in a chair. I am not particularly interested in either print, but cannot find any estimates of their value (or of their value if repaired) so I can decide if it would be worth the cost to have them repaired. Can you direct me to any sources of information about these subjects? Thank you!

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  23. At an estate sale, I recently bought an engraving entitled 1. Red headed Woodpecker, 2. Yellow bellied W. 3. Hairy W. 4. Downy W.
    It had 'Drawn fron nature by A. Wilson on the left lower edge and Engraved by G. Murrary on the right lower edge. There is no date but it appears old. It has some dark spots (foxing?) in 3 places and the edge of some of the paper appears to be cracking.
    Is this picture worth restoring/conserving? Can you provide any other information about it?
    Thanks!

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    1. Without seeing the print, it is impossible to tell if it is an original or what edition it is if original. These prints do turn up, so there is no reason to think it might not be an original and so worth fixing.
      You can read about Alexander Wilson's prints in this blog at

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  24. This blog does not seem to accept URLs, but you can find the blog on Wilson just by doing a search in the blog.

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  25. I just purchased at auction a picture in glass with black matte painted on the glass. it is titled "black Monday". and is suppose to be an etching. how does one tell it is an etching? it has been glued to a kind of cardboard and there is an old newspaper behind dated 1928. the glass and frame are very dirty. should./can it be restored?

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  26. There are a number of ways to tell if you have an etching, but this is too complex to answer here. If you go to the Philadelphia Print Shop on-line library (on our web site) we have a section which talks about etchings. As to whether it can be restored, likely the answer is yes, but it will likely be quite expensive, as removing prints from backing is very tricky and time consuming.

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  27. I have a Luigi Kasimir etching with an original signature in pencil at the lower right corner. It is the Belvedere Palace but the colors are faded. Other than that it is in great shape. It was not glued anything. What can be done to get some color back to this piece and what would it potentially be worth? I do like the piece and would probably keep it but would like to have colors restored without hurting the worth.

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  28. I just found a meindert hobbema "A road in the woods" 24x36 print that is glued to cardboard and framed in a heavy frame with a sticker on the back that says Academy Art Chicago... Can you tell me where this originated? Why would this print be produced? Were they produced for people who couldn't afford original paintings but could afford the next best thing? Also, do you know when these were produced? I can't find any information anywhere. Thanks for any information!

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    1. You are absolutely right that this print (which is a reproduction) was produced so that people could not afford original paintings could have something nice to hang in their homes. We do not really study reproductions, but I would guess this was done in the 20th century. In general you cannot find out much about such reproductions as there really isn't much research anywhere on these.

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  29. I have an old print of Priscilla Alden which has a minor puncture and some staining issues. Is this worth restoring? How should I go about it?

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    1. Cannot know without knowing what print it is, but I doubt it has a lot of monetary value. Restore it if you like it, but not for financial gain.

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  30. I have some original sketches on illustration board from the 1920s, by A T Manookian. They have a lot of foxing. I know that oils by Manookian are extremely scarce, due to the artist's passing in his 20s. Do these sketches have the value that would make them worth conserving or restoring?

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  31. I purchased 2 Redoute prints from the Paul Victorious Framing Shop in Charlottesville, Virginia, around 1973 when I was a graduate student at the University of Virginia. They were sold to me as original hand-colored engravings. The ones I purchased were flowers from the "Choix des plus belles Fleurs--1835"--the Bigonia (plate 11) and the Coreopsis (plate 24). My prints are identical to the ones I recently viewed on antique print web sites, except that they do not have the plate number beside Redoute's name in the lower left hand corner. I am wondering what this signifies. Does this mean these prints are from a later printed edition? if so, how does this affect their value?

    Also, I unfortunately put them in antique walnut frames with an oval wood liner and the wood has darkened part of the prints. Can this be removed and is the process expensive?

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  32. I have a J. Voyet print of a "Boat" framed in a nice green gold frame with material band in the center of the frame. The picture is one prominent large boat with masts no sails, it is by its self in a harbor. The buildings to the left appear to be a town. The sticker on the back Academy Arts 1840 N. Clybourn Ave. Chicago Ill. I think it is a print formed on hard backing cardboard or some kind of material. The print is yellowed and appears dirty, what is the best way to clean this print.

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    1. If the image is actually on the cardboard or some other solid material, then it really can only be surfaced cleaned. You can try a light soapy water, but I would try in a small area first to make sure it doesn't removed any of the color.

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  33. Years ago my mom and dad bought a framed picture at an auction in Ohio because of the print and antique frame. After taking it apart to refinish the frame they discovered several prints behind. One was a chalk sketch of a ballerina that was signed Degas. The paper was faded around the edges and has a small tear. They framed it beautifully and have it hanging in their home. Just wondered if they should go further in finding out it's authenticity.

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  34. I have a large print (25" x 29" overall - the picture itself being 19" x 22")titled An Autumn Landscape, which is printed below the picture along with the following text in the white margin...

    Painted by John Constable Esq R.A.
    Published by George Stinson & Co. Portland, Maine
    Engraved by Robert Bowyer Parkes

    Also, in very tiny font in the bottom boarder of the picture is this text:
    "Entered according to act of Congress by George Stinson & Co. in this year 1888 in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington"
    The print is covered with tiny light foxing stains but has no tears or creases, etc.
    The Constable painting it reproduces is titled "The Cornfield"

    A little internet research found this painting has be reproduced by several engravers, in various styles. Mine looks like the method used by engraver C. Cousen. I haven't been able to find one online by Parkes or as large as mine. Also interesting that this publisher changed the title. It could be an "original" antique print, but seller couldn't prove it. It certainly looks old. LOL Do you think it's value might warrant a restoration?

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  35. I purchased a print of Oppenheim's Wandering Wayfarer at a thrift store. It is in pretty rough shape because it was glued to a board and the sides taped down. I love the picture but I am unsure about paying for an estimate of getting it restored with the local restorer since I can find nothing about prints of his online. Since it is probably not valuable (unless I am just a terrible googler), should I try to peel it off the board myself and clean it well enough to be matted and framed or do you think I should take it to the restorer? Thank you!

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    1. This print is not one that has any serious value. It really is probably not even worth risking trying to take it off the board as you might rip it. I'd leave it on the board and you can try to clean it on the board. If you think it needs to come off to clean, fine, but it is a risk. Purely monetarily it isn't that much of a risk, but just be aware of the risk. I would definitely not, however, recommend paying for restoration as you could get one in better shape for less than that cost.

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  36. I have an 18th century English print by printmaker Samuel Cousins After Edwin Landseer, painter, title (object) "Return from Hawking". There is no title on the print and no margins. It is just one large beautiful scene. It is a gorgeous thing, however, it has need of conservation work (chips along the edges and in some small places on the surface/staining in some places, cleaning, etc.) I received an estimate for conserving the piece of $800-$1200 and that was from sending photos of the piece via email, not actually seen in person by the conservator. Does the technique used to create the print enhance its value (stipple/etching/engraving/mixed method) or is it soley based on the artist, its age and the content of the piece? I am trying to determine if the cost to conserve would supersede the value of the print. If a print is worth $800 then it would make no sense to spend that or more to restore. In that case, how does one value an un-conserved piece? Hence the reason to ask about the technique used when the print was made.

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    1. This print was originally issued with borders, a title, and other printed information below the image. Your print was, at some point, trimmed (which was not that unusual). This really affects the value, and in my opinion, unless you really love the print, I wouldn't spend that much to fix it up (at least not for financial reasons).

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  37. I bought a framed David Armstrong print "Pennsdale Meeting" and there is some staining on the print. How could I get an estimate on what it would cost to restore it? For what I payed for it not sure if it would be worth it.

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    1. You need to contact a paper conservator to get this information. In general, however, I suspect the cost of restoration would not make financial sense.

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  38. I need some info if it is possible. I purchased 7 prints of Cries of London. These prints look to be very old the paper is really brown in color and feel like it could be brittle, the images are done in stipple with color. Around the edge you can see a depression of the plate. The images have a plate number on each one. I have plates 1, 3, 7,8 10, 12, 13. Plate 7 measures 40 x 30 cm, Plates 8,10,12,13 measure 35.5 x 30.5 cm and Plates 28 x 34 cm.

    All plates have Painted by F. Wheatley R.A. engraving has been done by different engravers:

    Plates 7,8,10,12 are engraved by G. Vendramini
    Plate 13 is engraved by T.Gaugain
    Plates 1and 3 are engraved by L. Schiavonetti

    All images have the title in English and French, also each has the plate number below the text Cries of London.

    Three of the images are on heavy cardboard. Maybe mounted that way at sometime but they look like they were like that from the beginning.I don't know.

    There is a depression on the top, bottom and along the sides that appear to be a depression mark form the plate.

    Any info would be of great help to me. Thank you for the time you have taken to read this letter.

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    1. You do not say what your question is, so all I can do is make some comments.

      First, this series is one of the most often reproduced series of British prints there is. There are tons of reproductions of these (almost all of which have the plate mark you mention and the same printed information). That doesn't mean you have reproductions, but it is fairly likely.

      This is especially true because of the way you describe their condition. I have seen many of the repros of this series turn a deep brown; this seems to be because of the type of paper used. The originals rarely turn that color, though it is possible.

      In terms of restoration, the prints can probably be restored, but it would be rather expensive, both because of the browning and because some are glued to boards. If they are originals, this might be worth while, but I would make sure of that before doing anything. Unfortunately, there is no easy way we can tell you how to tell. You really need to show them to an expert.

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    2. Thank you Chris for the time taken to read and reply to my post. Yes I do believe you are right, these are pressed in 19th century. The originals are from the 18th century. I feel you may be right that it would be too much to restore them. So I will just frame and enjoy them the way they are (not too bad, just the browning). Thanks again...oh by the way, you have a great web site.
      Thanks

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  39. I have a print of Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island Niagara Falls with this printed in red, very small, at the top and the number 6127 in white at the bottom. It is in an old frame with several bubbles in the glass and in the distance of the print are 3 or so red brick buildings. The print has some foxing and it appears to have a waxed coragated backing. Just wondering if there is any value and should I have it cleaned and/or stabilized. It is about 13" X 17". Louise

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  40. It does not ring a bell, but from what you say (esp. the number at the bottom and the backing), I would say first that the print has only "decorative" value and secondly, it would cost considerably more than the print is probably worth to have it restored. Sorry.

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  41. I have a collection of 18 framed and 6 unramed Piranesi etchings which is a small part of a larger collection belonging to the estate of my late father. The collection was appraised in 1990 by Fisk & Borodin with fair market values listed. While many of the etchings were restored at that time, my collection was not restored or conserved. I have State 1 and some State 2 prints which are in pretty good condition aside from some spotting. The values in the appraisal range from $1,200. to $3,000 each which, again is described as fair market value at he time. I would like to sell but am wondering if I should invest in "cleaning" first. The works are visually appealing, as is...all identified by Hind number and State. I would appreciate any coment you may have.

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  42. I have a print by Benj Lander which is similar to one I saw online called Partegot Pond but a bit different. I have had it for 40 years.. my dad found it somewhere in the Boston area .. he was always out looking for "stuff".
    This print is 24.5" W x 13.25" H. It is glued to a backing board and in what looks like a plaster type of frame 2.5" in width. On the far left lower edge corner of the print it gives his name BENJ LANDER... then below the print on far right it is signed in cursive Benj Lander in what appears to be pencil. It is quite a good size signature. I have been told it is a vintage engraving print by the artist. and that a cleaning bath is risky (it is very brown) as the image is done on thin tissue, mounted to board and may separate in a water bath. Further, below the name in the lower left edge is a miniature about 2.5" wide by 2" H of a similar landscape but not the same one in the main body. There is water stain in the lower left portion of the print probably over about 15% of the work.
    Besides a bath, could this be conserved / restored in a different process...could the print actually be separated from the backer board (looks like a early form of mat--- it is really brown)
    I am told it could be deacidified but it would not change the appearance. Thank you

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    1. This print can be restored by a professional conservator (it sounds like it is a chine applique, and putting it in a bath unless you know what you are doing, is very risky). Unfortunately, that is very expensive. The print is from the etching revival period and these are nice prints, but they do not in general have a lot of value. I would guess that proper conservation would cost more than the print is worth, even fixed up. If you love it, it is worth doing, as you would preserve the print for the future and it would look better, but from a purely financial viewpoint it doesn't make sense. This is, unfortunately, quite a common thing for largish etching revival prints.

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  43. I could photograph and email if it would help

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  44. Mr Lane
    Thank you very much for you reply. I am not too concerned about a cost to restore/conserve ... to a certain point. Can you provide a "ballpark" estimate on the work on the print.
    The frame has a few chips (quite small) which I have been told could be filled in, color matched, and the frame cleaned. This print was framed sometime around 1908 as 2 copies of the Hartford Courant newspaper were found behind the wood backing.
    If you would prefer to talk on the phone regarding these specifics, please advise.

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  45. Hello! Well I found a big old print at the back of a thriftstore, it has seen better days... it has crazing in places.. I can't find a name, it's rather dark... 2 people are sitting on a log playing cards, and one is holding a crying baby. I know this probably means nothing to you haha, but I have always wondered if lithographs or prints can crackle? or do paintings only do that? I also found a original portrait drawing by Hilda Cowham is that worth preserving? I can see a few brown spots just starting to appear. Thank you for your time!

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    1. Prints do crackle, if the printing technique used heavy inks. Chromolithographs can do that, as well as other sorts of prints. As to the Cowham portrait, I am sorry but I am not familiar with this artist.

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  46. Where to take a George Barbier Le Gout des Laques with foxing to be restored?
    Regards Arlette Michelle

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  47. I have a newspaper from 1986 with print about my father, photographed, images of his invitations to the White House Inauguration of two presidents,And his life works its about three pages I would like to frame. They are very yellow, but I don't care about that how can I save them RoseAnn

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    1. You need to at least deacidify them (which will remove any acid in the paper). Then they can either be stored in an acid free box/sleeve, or you can frame them "to museum standards." The main thing to do (once the acid is removed) is to keep them away from acid, sunlight, moisture and bugs (and rough handling)

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  48. Hello,
    I am an antique dealer and have 2 etchings by Luigi Rossini (Veduta di Fianco dei Portici d'Ottavia and Interno del Pronao del Tempio di Vesta, in Roma). They were dry mounted to a cardboard backing many years ago and are showing discoloration. I did look up their recent auction results and the hammer price was around $300.00 for each. I understand if I have them conserved, they will remain discolored. I hate to see them in this state, however, their value is so borderline. What do you recommend. I am in the midwest.

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    1. There really isn't a good way to go. Your restoration costs are likely going to be around the amount the prints are worth and they are likely not to end up being "perfect" in any case, Personally, I'd just sell them as is and let someone enjoy some nice prints at a "good" price, even if those prints are not going to last that long. Unfortunately, this is something that we find fairly regularly with old prints of only moderate value. Good luck.

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    2. Thank you for your quick reply. I will follow your advice!

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  49. Mr. Lane
    Recently purchased 1900 Vanity Fair Print of Winston Churchill. Framed directly onto an old oak frame that has badly damaged the verso and has darkened and foxed the front as well. Problem is the print is signed by Churchill in ink, so much of the value is in the signature. Other than acidity treatment to conserve, is there any sort of restoration that can be done to the front of the print to improve its appearance without damaging the signature? Many thanks for your time.

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    1. Yes, you can indeed deacidify the print, but any cleaning must be done carefully. Most cleaning processes use some sort of moisture and the ink is fugitive and so must be kept away from any moisture. A good conservator can do spot cleaning away from the signature, but if the area around the signature is damaged, then that will not really improve the appearance. Wish there was a better answer...

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  50. I have 7 cries of london prints and dont know what there worth or how old

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  51. I just purchased what I believe are two Luigi Rossini prints I know nothing about them they look seem to be in good condition they are sealed in a black frame with a stamp on the back

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  52. I bought a small Africa map print from your Denver shop in Cherry Creek with foxing the size of a pea. Is there any common household items that can be used to safely remove or lighten the spot?

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  53. I have some John Gould prints. The hummers are my favorite but also the least pristine of my prints. There is some browning of paper; some have staining of some kind around the edges; some have light foxing; some have little tears on the edges or "ragged" edges, especially where the print was bound into the book. The hand painting on these lithos is bright, and the picture part of the prints doesn't have damage--only the background paper seems affected. Prints are about 21x14 and considered to be "good" to "very good" conditions--inspite of the browning, foxing, staining, tearing. About what would be the cost of conservation/restoration of a handpainted litho of this size? I don't know where in OK I could have conservaon/restoration done and if I could trust it. Any advice would be most welcomed.

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    1. Of course you can have the prints conserved. This is often a good idea with old prints, for it not only makes them look better, but preserves them. The darkening of paper is often caused by acid being in the paper. Cannot really say about the cost, as it depends on who does it, but I would guess about $250 per print.

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  54. i found a print of a Marc Chagall in a thrift store, on the back it says "basket of fruit" with a label of authenticity and signed but doesn't give the name of the agency .it is numbered 80 of 800,and a marc chagall sig. But on the back certification it says Limited editon,penciled Facsimile signature . Collectable chromolithograph.any value here?

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    1. This sort of "limited edition" is a commercial thing. The prints can be nice, but they really do not have any value besides what the prints look like. That is, they have "decorative" value.

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  55. I found 18 prints in an auction many years ago.

    Group 1,comprises 6 x steel engravings by Landseer of Drawings of DACCA, dated from 1816 − 1827; by Charles D"Oyley (later ones say Sir Charles D"Oyley Bart.

    Group 2 comprises 12 x Copper plate etchings(?) signed Pinelli inv. e inc. Roma 1826/1827
    They appear to be illustrations for the epic poem "Il combattimenti di Tancredi e Florinda"

    Bothe sets are lightly foxed, and a few have bookworm holes.

    ARE THEY WORTH RESTORING???

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    1. If you like them and want to frame them and put them on the wall, sure. However, purely financially, the cost of the restoration is going to be higher than the value of the prints.

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  56. I just purchased a print by Geo. Burgess, titled "1849 San Francisco", Litho H.S. Crocker Co. S.F. Copyright 1894. It in rather poor condition, the paper is wavy, probably from moisture. It has some heavy water stains. It has two tears one on the left side that is almost 9", and one on the right side that is 5". I have done some research and seen the prints selling for anywhere between $1000 to $2800. It is currently in it's original frame. The print measures 20" x 40". Would I be better off having it restored or just trying to have put back in its frame with archival materials? With the tears would this need to be relined. What would be a ball park for restoration of a print of this size and condition?

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    1. Really, it would seem that for its long term survival and appearance, it would make sense to have it restored, and yes lining it would probably be good. My guess is that the restoration would probably cost you about $700-$800, though possibly more because of the size.

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  57. Hello' I recently acquired a May 4th,1827 colored etching by R. Lambe of "Kate", (Lady Hamilton) by George Romney and engraved by T.Bragg. It has been mounted on matboard for years and has foxing visible from several feet with darkening of the image. Would you consider this piece worthy of conservation and if so what would you expect the cost to be, please? Thanking you in advance. Charles

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  58. I have an original Percy french watercolor.....the painting is in great condition, however the matt has darkened over time and is in a gold frame, that I do not like.....if I reframe the painting, will it loose value, not being original matting and frame?

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    1. Original matting rarely adds extra value, as it is almost always acidic. As to original framing, if it is a particularly nice frame or one with a plaque or other 'original' decoration, it definitely helps value, but for the majority of old images, the frames are just what someone liked at the time and so changing it to something you like makes perfect sense and really does not hurt the value.

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