1885 Frederick Cozzens Yacht Chromolithograph

Value (2009) | $1,800 Retail

WOMAN: Well, it was going to be discarded from my husband's stepmother's garage. And it was tied up in a bundle with newspapers and what have you, and when I undid the bundle of newspapers, she said, "Oh, just throw those away. Nobody's going to want..."

APPRAISER:
Now you say those, so there was more than one?

GUEST:
Yes, there are more than one.

APPRAISER:
How many of them?

GUEST:
Well, I have four more of the boat pictures and one that is called Ice Boating on the Hudson.

APPRAISER:
Okay. And so there was this group of prints...Right. And you did what with them?

GUEST:
I cleaned them.

APPRAISER:
Okay, now, they were very dirty, right?

GUEST:
They were very dirty.

APPRAISER:
And can you tell me how you cleaned them?

GUEST:
Probably not the right way. But I washed them very gently with a mild soap and water. And then I let them dry thoroughly, very flat, anchored down. And then I cleaned them with an art gum eraser. But one was not salvageable.

APPRAISER:
Well, it certainly looks beautiful. They are, as you know, by a man named Frederic Cozzens, and his signature is right down there. Frederic Cozzens was an American artist. He specialized in marine prints. And he got one of his big breaks in 1880. The New York Yacht Club commissioned him to make six watercolors. And they loved them, and so he thought, "Well, if I can make some prints of my watercolors"--the subject was very popular. This is an America's Cup scene, and a lot of his were of America's Cup. They were also other yachting prints. He thought, "If I could make prints of them, "I can make more money. My fame would grow, maybe people will pay even more money for my watercolors." So he decided to have chromolithographs done, and that's what this is. A chromolithograph is a print where each color is printed separately. And the idea was that they could make a print that looks like a watercolor. And if you look at the detail and the quality of the water, it's absolutely beautiful. He issued a portfolio called "American Yachts." And it had a whole series of these yachts, and that's what the prints you have are from. And, in fact, the Ice Boating on the Hudson is also from that same series.

GUEST:
Is it? Oh.

APPRAISER:
And the portfolio first came out in 1884. It was quite a success, and he issues a few extra ones. This is from the supplement. If you look down here at the date, you can see it's 1885, so it's the year afterwards. Each of these prints was issued in a portfolio with paper covers and they had labels. And, in fact, on the back of the frame is a label which has the name of the boat and the copyright date and the fact it's by Cozzens. Very successful, and he went on and he did a number of other portfolios, but these ones of the American yachts, which was the first one, are the best; they're the most desirable. We see a lot of ship prints. Most of them are just copies of paintings. And they're nice prints--they're worth maybe $100, $150. Why is this different? One is that Frederic Cozzens himself was involved in this. This was something that he did to promote his own art, so he followed it, he made sure it was done properly. It is also the process of chromolithography. Most ship prints that we see are restrikes or reproductions of something. This is something that was done by hand and it gives it a richness and a texture-- they really do look like watercolors. I'm very glad that you didn't have them thrown out, because if we saw this in a gallery, in a print shop, I would expect to see a value of about $1,800 on each individual print.

GUEST:
Really? Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:
The way you cleaned them, you were very lucky you were dealing with chromolithographs. Because putting paper in water when it has color is a recipe for disaster. But because chromolithography, the color is put on with an ink, a colored ink, it actually stays on it there. Now, you had them framed, correct?

GUEST:
I framed them. My husband and I framed them.

APPRAISER:
Now, you said that the mat board, you were told this is acid free.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
That's not totally correct. This is a mat board that has an acid free on either side, but the core is wood pulp. And if you look at the edge, you can see where it's cut, the bevel, you can see how it's turning brown. That brown is acid. When you frame, you should use all acid free--rag mat, basically.

GUEST:
Okay. Thank you very much.

APPRAISER:
Thank you. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
The Philadelphia Print Shop West
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2009)
$1,800 Retail
Event
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paper

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