View Full Version : Weston prints on "Antiques Roadshow"

Ben Calwell
21-Apr-2015, 13:12
Last night's episode of "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS closed with an appraisal of four Edward Weston prints. One was a nude and one was a photo of old boots. I wasn't familiar with the other two. Auction estimates on the four prints, together, if I remember correctly, were in the range of more than $200,000. Each one was in the $40,000 to $70,000 range.

21-Apr-2015, 13:29


Ben Calwell
21-Apr-2015, 13:31
Thanks for that link!

Drew Wiley
21-Apr-2015, 13:51
Those RS dudes wing a lot of this. But their basic approach is to do quick web searches of past sales. And then you have to reinterpret what they mean by worth.
Auction value means one thing. Retail value means something else, like, somebody might eventually pay such and such an amount, but the dealer will take his
usual 70% cut, or maybe pay you 30% up front. Then you have "insurance value" - way up there to cover hypothetical climb in value. But given the link, if those
are good condition examples of actual vintage EW prints, the appraised value doesn't surprise me at all. They're highly recognizable collectible pictures. Not so with
just everything he took or printed. Auctions are the wild card. They can come out way higher or way lower than the trend. It's really all about supply and demand.

21-Apr-2015, 14:57
Mainly demand since Supply is definitely finite.

Drew Wiley
21-Apr-2015, 15:35
It's a fluctuating dynamic. For example, shortly before AA died, you could simply walk into a dealer and buy a decent Moonrise print for 16K. But soon after he died, people wanted to get on the collector bandwagon, and a couple of these prints fetched around 45K. Well, a lot of those particular prints were made - not
exactly mass-produced, but something like 350 of them. So someone who had bought one way back when for 2K starts thinking about making a killing, so all of a sudden a whole lot of them flood the market, and the asking prices drop right back down to 16K where they started. Then it takes a long time, but scarcity sets in again, and now they're going for way way up there. EW didn't make anywhere near that many prints of given negs, but his son Cole did mass-print them. So famous vintage prints by EW himself have always been on the slim side of supply, but getting a good print from that very neg hasn't. So nuances of what "collectible" mean. I remember when the Cole prints were untouchable to hard core collectors. But now they're not. If you can't afford a Ferrari, you buy a

sun of sand
21-Apr-2015, 17:11
15-20 each seems very attainable and wouldnt be surprised if 2 or more especially if noteworthy and rare coyld bring 35+ or more

He could bank on near half the estimate and if they are that rare then maybe its possible

21-Apr-2015, 17:53
And he used to sell prints out of his Carmel place for $5 ea.............

21-Apr-2015, 18:30
And he used to sell prints out of his Carmel place for $5 ea.............

Does that mean there's still hope for us struggling photographers ?

21-Apr-2015, 20:00
Yup, you just have to die first unfortunately..............

John Layton
22-Apr-2015, 03:30
I took a workshop from Cole in 1982 - his "student price" for his (very nice!) print of Pepper #30 was 200.00. Why, oh why, did I not ante up? Not that I would have ever sold it, mind you! But the coolest thing was using EW's contact print frame and dodging tools - and getting to make a contact from one of his lesser-known negatives from his "nude on dunes" series. When Cole first held this negative up to show it to us...it was directly over a tray of fixer - and the rest of us just about jumped over the trays to shield the print from a (admittedly non-lethal) fall! (probably could have used a bit of re-fixing anyway!) Oh, but I could tell stories...Cole was a free spirit!

Merg Ross
22-Apr-2015, 09:15
It depends on who was doing the appraisal here, but even the photography experts at Sotheby's have misjudged estimates of value for EW auctions. Full signature (often he used only initials) commands a higher price. Also, the condition is an issue as prints from his "non-archival" process near the century mark. However, considering Weston's place in the history of photography, there will always be a demand, even for his lesser works.

In my opinion, the jewel of the group is Charis on the sand at Oceano, (1936). Trivia: Edward considered "Lily and Rubbish" his best "arrangement" photograph (1939). "Two Shoes" (1937) is also an arrangement; Charis found the shoes on an Owens Valley trip, probably at Keeler. They took them to the Alabama Hills where Edward photographed the shoes against the rock. The MGM Storage Lot (1939) was part of a series, this being the most famous.

22-Apr-2015, 10:58
In my opinion, the jewel of the group is Charis on the sand at Oceano, (1936).

Unfortunately, that is the one that had some damage to the print. It was minor, and only affected the value (substantially), not the viewer's enjoyment of the photo.

23-Apr-2015, 17:13
I believe art is the most dangerous "investment", because of how demand changes. You never know what may be hot in 10 years, and if you buy what it hot now, it very well could be worthless then. I see two Karl Struss prints have sold on Ebay, for $5400 and $6000. Not a lot considering his pictorialist background, then Hollywood.

Sal Santamaura
23-Apr-2015, 17:35
...Not that I would have ever sold it, mind you!...And therein lies the rub. A negative like one that afflicts Antique Roadshow guests who, when told of their objects' values, make a similar statement.

If one isn't going to sell, the quoted estimate is merely cause for additional insurance expense. It does nothing positive for the owner. Sell, or keep existence of the item secret, in my opinion. :)

sun of sand
26-Apr-2015, 12:02
If this guy and his family etc never knew who weston was but perhaps a cohort of aa
Who in the world knowd or cares who karl struss was

Weston has had enough longevity for any slips in value to be inconsequential
Chanced are his works will only rise or stay the same as they are with a much smaller chance they remain at a lower value for any sunstantial amount of time

Weston isnt hot and probably hasnt been in forever
Hes just solid

Hot art is whats dangeroud to buy at a high price

Dan Dozer
1-May-2015, 11:01
Not addressing the Weston prints, but you have to be very careful on the dollar numbers on that show. A friend of mine was actually on the show a few years ago with an old Persian carpet. They told him it should be "insured" for something like $4,000 - $5,000. Afterwards, he took down to a store that specializes in such things and they told him it was only really worth about $800 retail.

Drew Wiley
1-May-2015, 13:15
Roadshow is sometimes fun; but like many things on TV you can only watch something so many times. I'm sure some of the BS a lot or just to cursory web searches for recent sales history. After all, it about weeding out very long lines for the handful of things they might want to broadcast. As with anything art, evenif you encounter a famous name, it doesn't mean everything they did draws collector interest. Someone would need to specialize in that particular artists or genre to really be atop the game. For example, a really good condition ES Curtis print of some popular subject like Navajo riding in Canyon DeChelly or some othermemorable classic Indian subject could realistically fetch tens of thousands of dollars, just possibly even six figures. But what he himself considered "fine art" work later in life, like his pictorialist Hollywood nudes, can be found for almost pocket change. I've seen em fifteen to forty dollars apiece! Ironic, but that stuff really does look dime-a-dozen for the era, when everyone was doing it. "Retail" evaluations are the silliest of all. If it sells for a thousand retail, you'd be
lucky to get two hundred for it from the dealer, who will probably regret paying even that while it collects dust in inventory. One of the dumbest things I ever did
is sell a very famous photographer a couple of my own prints instead of trading for one or two or his, which would be worth quite a bit by now, I suspect.