Ansel Adams-signed Modern Photograph

Value (2015) | $2,000 Auction$3,500 Auction
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GUEST:
Unfortunately, I don't know a lot. It is an Ansel Adams signed print. It is a picture of Yosemite Valley in California, in Yosemite National Park. It's my understanding that when he was younger he took a lot of pictures. On one weekend, he would make the prints, and he would go back the next weekend and sell them in the park himself. When I moved out there I was introduced to his work, liked it a lot, and one day a friend of mine had this beautiful print delivered to my home as a gift.

APPRAISER:
Ansel Adams made many trips to Yosemite, because he fell in love with the natural landscape and found that that was going to be the subject matter of his photography. The first trips he made were actually with his family as a teenager, and that was in the '20s. In the '30s, when he committed to becoming a fine art photographer, he really focused on the California landscape, and Yosemite, of course, was one of those places that he recognized was a fragile, majestic, and beautiful wilderness. This image is entitled Valley View. It was made about 1936, so the negative was generated in Adams's early career, before he became an environmentalist and a public figure. What's interesting, as we know, Ansel Adams became a pretty famous photographer. In 1958 he decides that he's going to work with a team of darkroom technicians, he himself is no longer going to do a lot of the printing, and make what he referred to as open ended editions. If we turn your picture around, there's a hand stamp on the back of the mount that reads, "Special edition of fine prints." So this special edition is introduced about 1958, and in the 1960s and 1970s, Adams revisits older negatives, like this one from 1936, and he supervises the printing of those negatives.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
So here's the man who wrote the book about the zone system and the perfect photographic print, and in a sense, he's relinquishing the production of his prints to very able darkroom assistants. Indeed, this special edition print is signed by Adams in the lower right corner. Today, you can go to the Adams Gallery in Yosemite and buy a print of Yosemite for $250. But they're not signed by Ansel Adams. Do you have any idea what this print might be worth?

GUEST:
Because I lived in California and I saw some others, and again, I haven't been in California for almost 15 years, I would always tell people, "Maybe 500 bucks."

APPRAISER:
Well, when these prints come to the auction market, they generally sell between $2,000 and $3,500.

GUEST:
Wow.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2015)
$2,000 Auction$3,500 Auction
Event
Omaha, NE (June 27, 2015)
Category
Photographs

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