Appraisal Video: (0:00)
Prints & Posters
The Philadelphia Print Shop West
GUEST: Well, I grew up in a small farm north of here, and my neighbor boy had a beautiful, beautiful old farm, and he would tell me of all the neat prints and paintings and stuff that was up in the attic. And when his parents passed away, he gave me this picture, because I liked historical things, and I'm a big fan of Abraham Lincoln.
APPRAISER: Well, the value on prints comes from a number of things. Obviously the appearance is important, the scarcity is important. But to me the most interesting thing is the way that a print is connected with a historical event. Now, you know what this print is about, which is...
GUEST: Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet signing the Emancipation Proclamation.
APPRAISER: The artist of this print is a man named Frances Carpenter, and he thought the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation was one of the great achievements of humankind. And he was very, very proud of it as an American, and he wanted to document it. So he petitioned Abraham Lincoln to be able to make, in effect, an official print of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This is actually a scene of the reading of the Emancipation before the Cabinet, but it's the same basic event. Now, Lincoln did the Emancipation Proclamation, because he believed in it, but also as a political move, because he thought it would give a cause to the North in the Civil War. And he really thought that this would generate new enthusiasm. So, of course Lincoln was very excited about publicizing the Emancipation Proclamation. So, he said to Frances Carpenter, yes, let's do a print, but not only that, he invited Frances Carpenter into the White House. And for a sixth month period, Frances Carpenter moved into the White House and used the dining room in the White House as his studio. Lincoln also got all the members of his cabinet, and he told them, you've got to go sit for Carpenter, because we want this accurate. So each member of the cabinet had to go and sit and he had his photograph taken and Carpenter worked on the portraits. And then he constructed this scene, which is wonderful. And in fact, there's some photographs showing these people sitting in the positions that were used by Carpenter. Carpenter then took this print and he publicized it, by issuing many of these. And they went out into the public and really brought a lot of fame and import to this event, which really helped the Northern cause. Now, an interesting thing about this print is the quality of it. You can see that the impression is excellent. The detail is very, very good. If you look up here, you have the chandelier, and this of course was done on site. So it's very accurate. You have a portrait of Jackson, behind, which you can see his face, just barely. And he added little features like down on the bottom right-hand corner, you can see there's a map that shows the Confederacy, which was in revolt at the time. This print was issued in 1864, thereabouts. It was very popular, and later on, a newspaper called The Independent reissued copies of it. And down here below the title would have been something that said, "Issued by The Independent.” This is not one of those. This is one of the earlier ones. It's not that uncommon. Now, you said that this had the original backing on it, and you feel it's the original frame and everything.
APPRAISER: So you've kind of kept it like it is. That, in this case, is not a good thing. Because paper, if you leave it like it is, gets worse. On the back, it has old wood slats. Those wood slats have acid in it. That acid is moving into the paper. This mat... You can see there's some water stains down here. The stains aren't really the problem. The problem is this mat has acid in it. That acid is moving into the paper. And you can see, around the edges of the paper, you have some stains-- it's getting brown, it's getting splotches. That's all because of the environment it's in. In this condition, if it were in a shop, I would expect to see maybe $800, $900 on it. If you fix it up, you have a print that's worth maybe $1,600 to $1,800. Now, it's expensive to fix it up. I would say probably the restoration of the print itself would probably run you about $500 to $600. To refit it, which involves putting it on a rag mat, a new backing, and all that, will run you maybe a couple, $200, $250, but you increase the value certainly by that much. More importantly, though, if you don't do anything to this, it's going to crumble, it's going to fall apart, and you'll have nothing. It's a great icon, so I hope that you will fix it up.
GUEST: I will try.
APPRAISER: And thank you very much for bringing it in. 'Cause it's one of my favorite prints.
GUEST: Well, that's great.