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F&M College Library

What's My item Worth?

Researching your old print


Unfortunately, the Archives and Special Collections of Franklin and Marshall College cannot research your print for you, and will not appraise the value of your print. The best place for information on your print is your own local library, a reputable antique print/rare book dealer, or a library holding a large print collection such as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. The Philadelphia Print Shop and the American Historical Print Collectors Society also have several online tips for researching your print and determining value.


Resources to look for at your local library or online may include:

General information:

What is a Print? This informative site from the Museum of Modern Art describes woodcutting, etching, lithographic, and screenprinting techniques. Includes animated demonstrations, galleries of examples, a glossary, and recommended readings.

Books for identifying the type of print you have, ie. engraving, etching, lithograph, etc.:

Gascoigne, Bamber. How to identify prints : a complete guide to manual and mechanical processes from woodcut to ink jet / Bamber Gascoigne. [London] : Thames and Hudson, c1986 (1995 printing)

Ross, John. The complete printmaker : techniques, traditions, innovations / John Ross, Clare Romano, Tim Ross ; edited and produced by Roundtable Press, Inc. Rev. and expanded ed. New York : Free Press ; London : Collier Macmillan Publishers, c1990.

Martin, Judy (Frances Judy). The encyclopedia of printmaking techniques / Judy Martin. Philadelphia, Pa. : Running Press, c1993.

Griffiths, Antony. Prints and printmaking : an introduction to the history and techniques / Antony Griffiths. [2nd ed.] Berkeley, CA : University of California Press, c1996.

Lambert, Susan. Prints - Art and Technique / Susan Lambert. London : Abrams, c2001. 

For information about artists:

Turner, Jane, ed. (Grove) Dictionary of Art. 34vols. New York: Macmillan, 1996.
May also be available online at your local library.


Grove, George and David Wallace. The New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957.

Williamson, George. Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: George Bell & Sons, 1904.

Learning about historical context, period of a print:

Prints for the collector; British prints from 1500 to 1900. New York, Praeger [1971]

Mayor, A. Hyatt (Alpheus Hyatt). Popular prints of the Americas, by A. Hyatt Mayor. New York, Crown Publishers [1973]

Watrous, James, 1908- American printmaking : a century of American printmaking, 1880-1980 / James Watrous. Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. Two Centuries of Prints in America : 1680-1880 / A Selective Catalogue of the Winterthur Museum Collection ; E. McSherry Fowble. Charlottesville : Published for the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum by the University Press of Virginia, 1987.

Clayton, Tim. The English print 1688-1802 / Timothy Clayton. New Haven [Conn.] : Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, c1997.

For Currier and Ives Prints:

A useful Currier and Ives identification guide and reference book list can be found at

For determining value:

Davenport's Art Reference and Price Guide. Ventura, CA: Davenport's Art Reference, annual.

Gordon's Print Price Annual. New York: Martin Gordon, published annually.

Mayer, Enrique. International Auction Records. Paris: Edicions Mayer, published annually

Fine prints : collecting, buying, and selling / by Cecile Shapiro and Lauris Mason ; with glossaries of French and German terms by Joan Ludman. 1st ed. New York : Harper & Row, c1976.

Ebay will also give you an idea what similar items are selling for.

Although these sources may be helpful, one must remember that various factors such as condition, size, subject, scarcity, medium, age, etc., all determine value.

To find reproductions:, and have many print reproductions for sale.


How to care for your print:

Dolloff, Francis W. How to care for works of art on paper, by Francis W. Dolloff and Roy L. Perkinson. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts [1971]

Ellis, Margaret Holben. The care of prints and drawings / Margaret Holben Ellis.Nashville, Tenn. : AASLH Press, c1987.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center and The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts have helpful online advice for caring for artifacts such as prints.

For the services of a professional conservator, please link to the online directory of the American Institute for Conservation of Art and Historic Works.



This page is not intended as a definitive guide or endorsement of any particular publication, source, or internet site. It is intended solely as a aide to research that will provide ideas where to start looking for information about your print.