Re: Terms regarding condition of prints

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Posted by Paul Schumacher on May 10, 1998 at 02:06:16:

In Reply to: Terms regarding condition of prints posted by Gwynn Goodner on April 16, 1998 at 20:34:06:

: I am rather new to the world of Ukiyo-e collecting and would like to know more about some of the terms I have seen in comments about the condition of prints. What do the terms toning, foxing, and metallic transfer indicate when purchasing a print via the internet. Are there any words of advice or caution you could offer to a neophite? Are there certain things to avoid and/or look for when buying a print? So far I have been using primarily aesthetics to judge whether or not I would purchase a piece. Good and bad: good in that I am buying for reasons of artistic merit, but bad in that I may be overpaying for clever reproductions and fakes. I am well versed in the printing processes, so I can tell offset litho fakes easily, and I am starting to develop an eye for what looks like older paper, but am still unsure. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

: I have an opportunity to purchase a Koitsu (20th cent.) print of the "Sacred Bridge at Nikko". It looks a bit faded, but it is $65.00. I have seen the same image on a internet sales site for around $400.00. Should I go ahead and buy it or save up for something else? Thanks!

Condition is important in assessing the value of prints. As a quick primer, I offer the following:
Toning: An overall yellowing of the print, due to acid content of the paper, or transfer from an acid backing or mat(ie. cardboard). In older prints, it is sometimes described as air-burn, where the paper has taken on a decidedly brown tone.

Foxing: Yellow or brown spots or splotches on the paper in a scattered pattern, caused by a mould from storage in damp conditions.

Metallic Transfer: This is a shift in some of the original colours which were printed with metallic pigments, and which have oxidized over time.

Pigment Migration: Usually caused by heavy dampness and often seen in late 19th century prints where the aniline dyes (red especially) have bled onto other areas of the print.

As far as the Koitsu print is concerned, if it gives you $65 in pleasure, by all means buy it. Note however, that most prints from the last 100 years which have the greatest resale value tend to be in pristine condition, unless they are rare or highly sought after images.
Finally, the more you look at original prints the better trained your eye will become.

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