Ansel Adams Photo

Value (2003) | $900 Auction$1,200 Auction

GUEST:
This was on an on-line auction. I collect Mission San Juan Bautista items. I'm from San Juan Bautista, California, and so this was very sentimental to me.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, this is a photograph by Ansel Adams, one of America's premiere photographers, and it is a mission-oriented photograph. Ansel Adams was known as an environmentalist, a conservationist, and the photographs of his that people tend to focus on are his landscape images. He worked with a very large camera, what we call a view camera-- eight by ten inch. And so the size of the photograph is actually contact-printed to the size of the original negative plate.

GUEST:
Oh, wow.

APPRAISER:
And Adams is known for his fine technique in crafting photographs. And in fact, we can see in this print, a beautiful range of tones, a real detail, just a kind of majesty and beauty of the image. Now, this photograph was used in a book.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And what was the name of the book?

GUEST:
I believe, "The American Trust Savings."

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
And my grandmother actually has this book. And so, after I purchased this picture, my mom said, "I think that's in that book." So I got the book, and sure enough, it's... that picture is in the book.

APPRAISER:
Okay. I just wanted to point out the condition of the actual print. And in raking light, when we handle the print at an angle, we can see that there's a vertical indentation in the surface of the print. And when we see a little impression, on the print itself, that's going to diminish the value of the print somewhat. If we turn the photograph around we will see... this photograph was actually used to make the engraving in the book.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
So that's a very neat thing. And the photograph has Ansel Adams's hand stamp. When we talk about value, what we generally want to see are signed photographs, and ideally, enlargements.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And so a picture like this is going to be in the $900-to-$1,200 range...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Given the subject matter, given the fact it's not signed and given the fact that it's a proof print.

GUEST:
Well, I think that's great. It's more than I paid for it, but I love the subject matter, so I'm happy.

APPRAISER:
It's a very beautiful vintage print.

GUEST:
Oh, thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2003)
$900 Auction$1,200 Auction
Event
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)
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."

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