Re: Evaluating prints


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Posted by hess on November 13, 1999 at 07:29:40:

In Reply to: Evaluating prints posted by geo. on October 30, 1999 at 20:46:25:

: I know there are no "hard and fast" rules for placing values on woodlbock prints, but I wonder if someone has some "rules of thumb" or general guidelines. It's generally not too difficult to find a reference for a pristine or "very good" condition print, but how much should one deduct (percentage-wise) for worm holes, paper loss, thin areas, rubs, fading, and the like? I realize there no easy answers here, but a basic idea of what the thought process is like when evaluating a print is what I'm after.
: Thanks, geo.


SINCE I HAVE BEEN ABSENT FROM THE BOARD FOR SOME TIME,
THIS IS MY CHRISTMAS GIFT TO ALL OF YOU.


FIGURE ON A POINT SYSTEM.
100 points is mint pristine to die for condition.
Deduct for condition problems from there.
Within a condition problem there is a range of points.
And condition problems that cannot technically be "repaired" without violating the technique and nature of the original woodblock creation carry the most weight or points.

Condition problems that cannot be "repaired".
1) Color loss from fading.
2) Paper loss from rubbing.
3) Trimmed margins removing identifying (authenticating) marks.
4) Waterstains that result in running of pigments.
5) Toning Within Image (two adjacent hues of the same color with the color difference visible in a straight line often refered to euphemistically as "mat burn").
6) Folds.
7) Paper loss.
8) Wormage.
All of the above require "adding" to the original process. They cannot be "repaired" without violation of the paper's original fibers and dyes.
Thus, they mutate the print. The print is not conserved. The print is altered.
Deduct points as follows (numbers correlate to above) based upon the severity of the condition problem;
1) 10 to 90 points.
2) 10 to 50 points.
3) 30 to 50 points.
4) 50 to 95 points.
5) 50 to 95 points
6) 20 to 40 points.
7) 25 to 75 points.
8) 20 to 75 points.
AFTER the print has been "repaired", with luck you will be near the low end of the points deduction. But not below the lowest number. For example, if trimmed margins are replaced with margins from the identical same image of the identical same printing period and done so well that you need a magnifier to see the repair (and even then you are not sure); the print is still a minimum of 30 points below 100 perfection.
Often you will find that a "repair" often will not really increase a print's value to a serious disciplined educated collector. Top notch collectors can spot EVERY repair and will deduct accordingly.
Now some might argue that one should not be so harsh when "grading" prints because many prints are so rare and infrequently surface.
But the grading or point system holds true even for rare and treasured images and publishings.
Even though the auction results for a rare print with any or all of the above 8 condition problems might seem astronomical, the price paid still has factored in the comparison to a mint 100 point perfect print. So all those $250,000- Sharaku prints that seem to be decomposing before your eyes would be Million dollar plus prints if in mint pristine 100 point condition.

Other condition problems warrant point deductions, but are problems that can be minimized or sometimes completely removed with "conservation" techniques. That is, the "restorer" does not have to add foreign paper to the original print or does not have to add foreign pigments dyes or watercolors to the original print.
8) Foxing or Staining....10 to 50 points.
9) Toning Overall to paper....10 to 50 points.
10) Thinning....25 to 75 points.
11) Backing....10 to 40 points.
12) Bad prior restoration....15 to 75 points.
13) Graffiti (dealer marks, "collector" insignia, framer's marks, etc.)....10 to 25 points.

Those are the top condition problems.
Now your average Japanese print buyer who believe that they are a "collector" will find these point deduction guidlines surprising. Perhaps ridiculous. But hardcore collectors abide by these numbers and turn their backs on prints that appear reasonably priced to the unwashed but the point deductions do not justify the cost.
How does one figure how much to pay for a print with condition problems?
As an example;
A Eizan ukiyoe print in 100 point mint condition is worth $1000-.
The print is laid down but can be lifted from it's backing without losing any paper.
Deduct 10 points.
Colors are faded about 20 percent from mint colors and lifting it from it's backing results in another 10 percent loss of color.
Deduct 30 points.
Slight rubbing of paper. Not repaired.
Deduct 15 points.
Graffiti in margins that is not removable.
Deduct 10 points.
Total point deductions....55.
Cost of "restoration" to lift print from backing;
$150- maximum.
Formula to value print;
100 points MINT condition.
minus 55 points for final condition problems.
equals 45 point value of "restored" print.
This point system is basically structured so that the end point value is a percentage of the MINT condition print.
In this example, the final print is worth 45 percent of MINT condition.
Thus $450-.
Factor in the maximum $150- cost of "restoration".
And the maximum one should pay for this print is $300-.
So it really is quite simple.

There are other factors to consider.
Specifically, the "edition" of the print even within the artist's lifetime by the original publisher,
registration of colors, thickness of keylines, etc..
All of these factors are inherent quality issues of the print.
Not external factors resulting from the treatment abuse or neglect of the print during it's life.
If you want guidelines for valuing these factors, I will need to receive a lot of "I LOVE YOU"
emails before going to the trouble.




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