Whistler & Rembrandt Etchings

Value (2005) | $6,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

GUEST:
I've known this woman since I was four years old. She and her husband moved to the block back in 1949 and had a house built and I became her friend. She never had any children and over the years we communicated. And in '97, her husband died and she started clearing out the house and she started giving me things.

APPRAISER:
And do you know where she got them from?

GUEST:
Yes, she used to do domestic work in Pasadena and the woman she worked for gave her things over the years. And so then she gave them to me.

APPRAISER:
Excellent. The print closest to me is an etching by arguably the first great etcher, Rembrandt. And it represents Christ disputing with the doctors. And it's signed up here "Rembrandt" and dated "1654."

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
The print closest to you is an etching by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. And that's signed down here and dated "Whistler 1859."

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Basically we have 200 years separating two of the greatest printmakers who ever lived.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Rembrandt was the first major etcher. And etching was revived by Whistler some 200 years later. And what you see here is the revival--

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
--of this process. There is this spot in the Rembrandt print here in the upper right, and that was caused probably by somebody dropping water or something like that onto the print itself. And then down in the lower right, you can see there's a soft crease that has broken through the paper, so you have a break in the ink. It's also darkened over time.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
The paper's sort of stained. Originally, the sheet that the print is on would've been more the color of the matte,

GUEST:
Oh, wow.

APPRAISER:
a nice cream color. And that's probably from sunlight and by association with acidic materials. The condition of the Whistler overall is very good. That is also nice to me because it's on a different sort of paper. It's a fibrous Japan paper, which is sort of a deluxe paper that Whistler used. Now this is a later courier print by Rembrandt. He worked from the 1630s through the 1660s. And the '50s were sort of his last major decade of output. The Whistler print on the other hand is one of the earliest prints he made just after he had gotten to Paris in the late 1850s. In terms of value... do you have any idea, any sense of what they might be worth?

GUEST:
No. I can't tell you the things that I've thrown away since watching the ROADSHOW that I know had value. So, no, I have no idea what the value of these pieces are, but I thought because these are numbered and this doesn't seem to be an only copy, I didn't think it was worth that much because it's not a single copy.

APPRAISER:
Well, remarkably, they're about the same value.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
At auction, each would sell for approximately $3,000 to $5,000.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The Rembrandt possibly a little bit more. The condition problems that I discussed with the Rembrandt, they are all reversible. And all of that could be done for a few hundred dollars.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And that will only help its value.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
And the Whistler's a very scarce print. I've not seen it at auction in the last ten years. So that one could surprise us, too. It could sell for more than $5,000. But basically around $6,000 to $10,000 for the prints.

GUEST:
Okay. Well, that sounds good.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, New York
Appraised value (2005)
$6,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Event
Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2005)
Form
Etching
Material
Paper

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.