Tuesday 18 January 2022

Buying Vintage and Antique Art for Investment

Buying Vintage and Antique Art for Investment

One of my favourite things to collect in the world of Antiques and Vintage is Art! Specifically paintings and prints and the later is what we are going to talk about today.

Art is one of the most fun and displayable collections you can accumulate over time,  not only is there so much choice but it also can be a great way to invest money for the long term if done right , I am here to hopefully guide you on a good path to doing just this. 

Before starting an art collection you need to get your intentions in order,  you need to find out what you like, what you will enjoy collecting and what type of art you are most interested in.  If you just go out with the mindset of ''collecting art'' generally you will end up buying everything and gaining very little specialist knowledge along the way which is key for building a collection worth having.  So I would advise you to niche down and pick a specific area to collect like ''19th century engravings'' for example as this will help you enormously in achieving your goal of gathering a valuable art collection.

There are many different types and styles of art to focus your collection on like ceramic art, bronze sculptures etc etc but for the purpose of this blog we are going to focus on vintage and antique prints which in my opinion is an undervalued niche of it's own with a lot of upside potential for the future.   

Now let's talk a little about the different styles and types of prints that are considered collectable and world buying for investment.

First we will take a look at early block printing,  these types of prints are generally classified as engravings and etchings,  This type of print has been around for hundreds of years and is probably the oldest type we will talk about today.   Engravings and Etchings come in many different types some are printed using copper plates to transfer the image onto paper,  some use steel plates but some of the most interesting and desirable are done using the wood block printing method, like this style of late 19th / early 20th century Japanese woodcut prints which if are by a good artist of the time can be quite valuable because of there very modern looking artistic style and importance in Japanese culture.

Early engravings and etchings however as mentioned can date back hundreds of years and if found by the right artists and right condition can be some of the rarest prints to acquire for your collection, In todays market most antique etchings and engravings over 100 years old are severely out of fashion and prices are generally low because of this.  This is a good place to find value in the art market and if you decide to go down this route then you could build a substantial collection for penny's on the dollar/pound with a great upside potential because as trends go out of fashion they just as quickly come back in!

Below is a nice quality 18th century Engraving 

The Second style of print I want to talk about today is the Lithograph , The Lithograph was introduced a bit later that the Engraving and etching processes we mentioned before and along with it came the introduction of colour printing.  You may see antique colour engravings on the market but these would have been printed in black and white and hand coloured/tinted at a later date so the actual colour is not part of the print.  Lithographs are authorised copies of an artist's original painting and can sometimes be done by the artist him/her self and will usually be a hand signed and limited number run. 

Lithographs were very popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries and the price and quality can vary greatly, 

As you can see how the printing process has moved on into the 19th century, these very colourful and decorative prints became mainstream and are wonderful for capturing the society at the time. 

The Third style of print that I want to talk about is the Screen print, the type that burst onto the scene in the early 20th century particularly the posters of the Art Deco period and mid 20th century that primarily focus on the use of strong vibrant colours and bold designs.

I have to admit that the screen printed posters and prints from these periods are my most favourite as i just find them very bold , fun and iconic.  When you think of screen printing you automatically think of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol's soup can prints that really show you the depth of colour and visual impact that can be achieved using this printing method.

Artist proof prints are another area to collect in the world of visual arts, called artist proof because they are very early copies of the original artwork only really intended for the artist alone to check the quality of the print before it goes into a larger production.  These often filter there way out into the public and because of their scarcity due to very limited number demand a collectors base of their own.  The way to generally identify artists proof prints is by a small hand written A/P pencil mark in one of the lower corners.

Again as mentioned earlier, lower edition numbers mean higher scarcity generally leading to higher prices, Look for limited edition prints and try to acquire pieces with as lower edition numbers as possible, Generally these lower edition numbers also mean a higher quality printing.  For example and edition number of 3/10 would mean print number 3 of an edition of 10 which would be very low and possible chance of better quality and increased scarcity, On the other hand if the edition number was 100/1000 that would mean the print if no 100 of an edition of 1000, not as scarce and the chances are the print quality would not be as good all leading to a less collectable item. 

But please be aware that this number is not all inclusive, there are a few boxes to check first before making a purchase on Investment prints some of which I will go through below.  

- Rarity    As a general rule of thumb , the higher number of any print available the lower the possible value in the future which is just basic business really higher scarcity generally means higher price , Lower scarcity means lower price.  So go and keep an eye out for lower print runs for example a print out of an edition number of 50 is rarer than a print of an edition of 1000. 

- Condition   This can have a huge effect on the value of a piece of artwork,  A well preserved piece of art in mint clean condition will always fetch a premium as it does with anything in life, But condition issues with an old print like tears , staining, foxing , rough edges etc can have a devastating effect on the value of the item,  as much as 90% sometimes so make sure you buy the best you can afford in the best condition . 

- Artist   Sometimes you may come across a nice clean original print from a famous artist at a good price and if you do you can count yourself lucky as it can happen from time to time especially if you learn the knowledge needed to spot details from blogs like this!  However most top artist fetch high prices from the start making it very hard to find value when you are buying for investment with a decent return,  I recommend looking for lesser known , upcoming artists who's prices may not yet reflect the quality of the artwork on offer , this way you will be giving yourself a chance of building a collection that could appreciate greatly in the future,  At least anyway until you gain the knowledge and contacts to acquire work from top quality artists from people you trust which leads me onto the last point to consider. 

-Authenticity    This becomes very important when acquiring higher end valuable pieces of art of artist like Picasso , Chagall , Lichtenstein etc as works from such highly sought after artists are highly collectable and valuable meaning there are some high quality fakers and forgers looking to take the money from unsuspecting victims.  When buying high quality artwork I always recommend only buying from a trusted dealer or top auction house when buying such art,  be sure stay away from popular online auctions as these are perfect hunting grounds for forgers.  This does not really matter to much if you stick to lesser known upcoming artists as the big money is not there yet to attract the big money oriented forgers leaving this area a perfect place to start your collecting journey. 

I hope you find this blog post helpful and it offers you value in your personal journey in starting your fine art print collection,

All the best

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