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Should you buy an antique print or a reproduction print?
An antique print in good condition has value because it is the original work of art produced by the artist in limited quantities. Dependent upon the artistic quality, subject matter and significance it could also have great monetary value. For example, original Audubon bird prints sell for thousands of dollars and are very rare. The snowy owl recently sold for $125,000.
Most antique prints are no longer copyright protected. Therefore, anyone with a scanner and an inkjet printer can make unlimited copies. Giclee printing is a digital printing process combining pigment based inks with paper to achieve an inkjet reproduction print of superior quality. To detect reproduction prints look for tiny little dots of color that are produced by the ink jet nozzles. An original hand color print would have consistent brush stroke coloring. Original prints can be reproduced using Giclee printing at little cost. Since these are not original prints and there is no limitation to the amount of copies that can be reproduced there is no collectible value associated with Giclee reproduced prints.
Be aware of euphemisms. Reproduction prints are not really "museum art prints". Museums do not exhibit reproduction prints. Also what is an "original reproduction"? Be aware of misleading titles, such as "original 1979 print" when the original print was created in 1922. It is actually an "original ink jet reproduction print created in 1979".
However, some reproduction prints that are limited editions may have value, such as the Amsterdam Series of Audubon Bird Prints that were reproduced in the 1950's.
If requested, an antique or rare print dealer must be able to offer a purchaser a Certificate of Title and Authenticity.
Title – A title guarantee assures the buyer the print is legally owned by the seller and good title is passed to the buyer.
Authenticity – An authenticity guarantee assures the buyer the print is properly described as to originality and condition. It also provides protection against purchasing reproduction copies.
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