1820 John Trumbull Print, "The Declaration of Independence"
Appraised Value: $800 - $900
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:48)
Prints & Posters
The Philadelphia Print Shop West
GUEST: There was an old mansion across the street.
APPRAISER: Right across the street from where we are today, right?
GUEST: And they moved it south of town. And when they moved the building, there was a dumpster in the back, and I went in the back, and I was looking through the dumpster, and I found this; it was all folded up.
APPRAISER: Do you go around looking in dumpsters? Is that something you do?
GUEST: Uh... no, not all the time. About 25 years ago, I'd look for old things, I'd go through the dumpsters. This one caught my eye.
APPRAISER: This is actually one of the great American images. It's a very, very famous image. It was painted by John Trumbull, and it's done in hundreds and hundreds of different prints, most of which do not have a lot of value. As it happens, your dumpster find does have a fair bit of value. And the reason for that and the reason that this is different than most of the others, is because this is the print that John Trumbull himself had produced. Now, you can see down here, we have John Trumbull's name. And John Trumbull was a painter trying to get by, trying to make money. So, in order to make money, one of the things he did was, he took these famous images; he did a number of famous images of American scenes. He did the Battle of Bunker Hill, which he'd had made into a print in England. But this is a classic American scene-- he decides, I'm gonna have an American make it. So he hired a man named Asher B. Durand, and his name is down here, and you can see he was the engraver. And Asher B. Durand made this plate for John Trumbull and this was issued in 1820. And you can see right down here is the publishing information with the date of 1820. So this is how John Trumbull was trying to make his fortune. John Trumbull himself was connected to the event. He was a participant in the American Revolution. He knew all the people here. He painted these portraits from life. And you can see in the middle you have a very famous group of people, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. He wants to do this great symbol of American liberty and independence. So he takes these portraits, and he puts them together in this print. And because of his connection with the history, because of the great American engraver, because they're based on life portraits, that's where this print-- as opposed to the hundreds of others-- has some value. Now, you had it put into this frame. You haven't had any restoration done on it?
GUEST: No, it was all folded, and when I took it to the guy to have it framed, he unfolded it and said it wasn't worth framing.
APPRAISER: He probably sees a lot of these images, and most of them aren't worth spending a lot of money in this condition. In perfect shape, it's about a $2,000 print. Now, this one is not, and even restored, is not gonna be worth that much, but still, I would say $800 to $900 in this kind of condition. You have it fixed up and you restore it, you clean it up, it's gonna be worth over $1,000. Not bad for dumpster diving.
GUEST: Not bad at all. It paid off.
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