Norma Bassett Hall Woodcut

Value (2004) | $1,500 Auction$2,000 Auction

GUEST:
I actually found it at a local Goodwill. I was just going... looking for, you know, something, who knows what, and it really caught my eye.

APPRAISER:
And how much did you buy it for?

GUEST:
It was $1.49. And it just seemed like it shouldn't be $1.49. I thought the colors were very beautiful. There just seemed something about it that this was a piece that was, you know, that was nice, that was lovely.

APPRAISER:
And you've done some research on the artist?

GUEST:
I've done a little bit of research on it. The artist is Norma Bassett Hall, and I found out that she is from the Oregon area and that she married another artist and they spent some time in Great Britain and I think that's where this particular piece is... is depicting. And she later became part of something called the Prairie Print Makers Movement.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
But I don't know anything about that.

APPRAISER:
Well, you're right. You see it's signed right down here. That's her signature-- "Norma Bassett Hall," and it is a color woodcut. And she married a Scottish fellow, Arthur Hall, and in the '20s they did travel throughout England and Scotland, and that is in fact where this print was made, or where she... she acquired the subject for this print. It's a cottage in Skye. That's titled down here in the lower right in pencil. It was the artist Arthur Wesley Dow who sort of imported color woodcut to America in the early part of the 1900s. He was teaching in New York and in Provincetown, Massachusetts. And from art school to art school, this, sort of, the popularity of color woodcut moved westward. Now, I place this work in the Arts and Crafts movement. She would print one block per color. So for each color you see in this print, which are, you know, maybe seven or eight colors, you have a different block being made. So there's quite a bit of craft used to create a woodcut like this.

GUEST:
One question I had for you is that I've simply left it as it is and, you know, I was concerned about making sure that it's framed properly.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, yeah, around the edge of the mat it's browned and it's an earlier mat. The print was probably put into this frame not too long after the print was made in the '20s or '30s, and it is an acidic mat. You can see how the mat has browned along the edges, and it's something that you definitely want to take to a framer. Have them remove it from this mat and put into an archival, museum-quality, non-acidic mat. You spent only $1.50 on this print?

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
It's a very, very strongly collected market right now-- the Arts and Crafts color woodcut. And despite the fact that she's not an extremely well known artist, it does have a beautiful look to it. The colors are very fresh on this print. It's a fairly complex print with all the colors that she used. All that being said, it's something that at auction would sell for probably around $1,500 to $2,000.

GUEST:
God.

APPRAISER:
So $1.50 spent at a secondhand store was very good.

GUEST:
That's amazing.

APPRAISER:
You trusted your eye, and you have a good eye.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, New York
Appraised value (2004)
$1,500 Auction$2,000 Auction
Event
Portland, OR (August 21, 2004)
Form
Woodcut
Material
Paper

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