As a young collector to start with the purchase of prints is a good idea. Prints give you the opportunity to buy a work by an artist, whose original paintings are not affordable for you – at least at the moment. When I started buying art I focused on good quality prints and also on drawings by unknown artists. Despite the opinion of art investors to buy only ‚original‘ works by famous artists, I would rather recommend to only buy artworks you really like.

Beside the favor it is necessary to know a little about how prints arrive their prices. So this is my list of the important factors at buying prints:

  • artist and signature 
    Like it or not, the artist is the most important factor for the price of a print. There a enormous differences between the vast amount of artists. As well as the artist himself his signature is essential in giving a print a price. Beside the signature there are also artist stamps and blind stamps possible – which are stamped by the executor after the death of the artist. 
  • edition 
    The price of a print depends extremely on the edition of the print. There are editions of 1000 or more, what makes a significant price difference to editions of 10 (as you remember from my previous entry – there are just twelve prints known of the Young Woman at the Beach by Edvard Munch with a result of over EUR 2 million).  
  • catalogue raisonné 
    If there is a catalogue raisonné of the prints and the work is included – this is  a good sign. You only must be careful that the edition do conform with the entry in the catalogue raisonné. Often there are prints outside an edition and which are not authorized by the artist or are only copies from museum shops et cetera.
  • dating 
    The period of the oeuvre of the artist could be relevant, too. If the artist made his most important works during the time of e.g. 1918 to 1938 the works before this period are possibly not high in prices. The dating is not the most important aspect for sure, but it won’t harm you to take a look on that.
  • condition
    The condition of the paper (or the image carrier generally) is also important for the pricing. There are a variety of damages a work can have. Some damages are not that significant like little creases or a slightly discoloration of the paper but be careful if there are mould stains visible.

In any case of buying a print you should take a look on the work in advance of the purchase. It is best indeed to see the work in original first. If this is not possible for you, galleries and auction houses will be helpful with photos and condition reports prior the purchase or the auction.

My short list should give you now an idea what it means to buy prints. Of course there is much more to say about and I will come back to prints for certain.
At the end I just want to make clear that all the factors I have listed are closely linked among each other. Every single point is important and have to be considered.

Finally I add the last point, which I hold back until the end, because this is about taste:

  • subject
    The subject of a work is a factor which depends on the taste of the buyer. Trends can be identified of course – at the moment it is hard to find a buyer for portraits (except self portraits). Therefore I come back to my recommendation from the beginning of this article ‘buy artworks you really like’ . This is significant fo any passionate collector.


For the very end: This is a example of a good deal at a forthcoming auction on 28 January 2018 at Auktionshaus Dannenberg:
Pablo Picasso
“LA PIQUE I”, 1959
lithograph on Arches (browned), signed on the lower right in pencil “Picasso” and numbered “2/50”, printed at Maeght Éditeur, Paris
image size ca. 44 x 55,6 cm, sheet size ca. 50,3 x 65,9 cm
catalogue raisonné: Georges Bloch, 898; Mourlot, 324.

(Edit after the auction, 29 Jan 2018)
Estimate: EUR 3,000
Result: EUR 6,000

© Auktionshaus Dannenberg GmbH & Co. KG

Anna Avantgarde



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