Field Trip: Presidential Prints at Mount Rushmore National Memorial
HOST: The giant granite faces of four American presidents that peer out over the Black Hills of South Dakota are one of the most iconic attractions in the country. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Work began in 1927 and was completed in 1941. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were chosen to represent the first 150 years of America's history. These leaders' likenesses were also captured countless times on paper. We asked appraiser Chris Lane to highlight some guidelines for evaluating prints that depict the presidents. Let's start with Washington, our first, and arguably our most popular president. But does that popularity translate when we talk about prints?
It does indeed. And he's also the most valuable of the presidents in terms of the value of prints. And there's a wonderful print that was done in 1800 in London that shows Washington leaving Mount Vernon. It was drawn by Jeremiah Paul Jr. and engraved by Edward Bell. Washington, after his presidency, was called back by President Adams to be commander of the U.S. Army. And although he expected to retire to Mount Vernon, his dedication to the country led him to go. It's a wonderful print. But what's important about it, it was done in 1800, just after he died. That makes it a contemporary print. And that's what gives these prints a historic value that translates into market value. In a retail setting, it'd be worth about $3,800. HOST: So Thomas Jefferson, our third president, author of the Declaration of Independence. How does he rank in popularity?
Well, he's a very popular president, but not as popular as Washington. And therefore, his prints are generally a little less valuable. Interestingly, though, there are actually less prints made of Jefferson, which makes Jefferson's prints a little scarcer. So that generally brings up the value. Now, there's a wonderful contemporary portrait done in 1826, shortly after Jefferson died. This done by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse, and lithographed in France by Motte. It's fairly scarce, but it's not really a very exciting print. And that keeps its value down. In a retail setting, this would sell for about $750. HOST: And Teddy Roosevelt, our nation's 26th president. Arguably, not the most popular of the four up there.
And because of that, in general, his prints are going to be the least valuable. However, there's a wonderful print done in about 1898 by a Chicago firm called Kurz and Allison. And it shows him when he was in the Spanish-American War as colonel of the Rough Riders. That's a subject which is very popular for Teddy Roosevelt. Plus, it's a really stirring print. And so that gives it more value relative to Teddy Roosevelt prints. So in a retail setting, that's going to be $1,200. HOST: So now let's talk about Abraham Lincoln. I got to assume on popularity level, he's got to be up there with Washington.
Lincoln is very popular today. Not as universally as Washington, but he still is. Therefore, Lincoln prints are going to be very desirable. However, when Lincoln was assassinated, there was a large production of prints that came out right after, mourning prints. So there are actually quite a number of contemporary portraits of Lincoln from that period. Now there's a portrait done in 1866 by William Marshall who both drew it and engraved it. And it's just a superb print. It's considered one of the best portraits ever done of Lincoln. The quality is great. And in a retail setting, that would have a value of about $1,800. HOST: Well, Chris, thanks so much for sharing all this information about these prints, and what a great place to do it, at the foot of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and it's been awesome.
Well, thank you, it's been a lot of fun.
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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."
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