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Q: Effect on value of a lithograph being glued to the mat. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Effect on value of a lithograph being glued to the mat.
Category: Arts and Entertainment
Asked by: nona75-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 27 Aug 2002 00:01 PDT
Expires: 26 Sep 2002 00:01 PDT
Question ID: 58973
I own a lithograph from a listed artist, Mabel Dwight.  It is from an
edition of one hundred made in 1929.  It is signed and dated.  I found
records showing that one other of this same lithograph (Dusk or Dusk,
Staten Island) sold for $500 and another sold for $1700, both sales in
the late 1990s. It looks good.  I don't know yet but there is a
possibility that my copy was glued to the mat.  If that turns out to
be true, other things being equal (which, of course, they never are)
what's a reasonable guess at how that would affect value?  I know
there is not a precise answer to such a question but some sort of
ballpark figure would help me.  Would the value drop 20%, 40%, 60%?
Subject: Re: Effect on value of a lithograph being glued to the mat.
Answered By: bethc-ga on 27 Aug 2002 07:05 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi nona75,

I noticed when I woke up this morning, that your question has been
sitting unanswered from last night. I suspect it is because we
researchers are somewhat reluctant to take on a question that asks for
a subjective opinion. It’s risky. But I didn’t want to leave it
unanswered, especially in view of the fact that you have been a
supporter of Google Answers, and I recall the concern that you showed
for our financial welfare in one of your previous questions. We don’t
like good customers to feel ignored.

Let me first tell you a little about my background, so you will know
why I felt compelled to tackle your question. For almost ten years, I
owned a picture framing shop and art gallery. I have since sold it to
my daughter and son-in-law, but they still call and ask for my advice,
so it remains a family concern. I also still hold a designation of CPF
(Certified Picture Framer), which is the highest certification in the
picture framing industry. I tell you this so that you will know that I
have a background in archival (or conservation) treatment of artworks.

Archival framing consists basically of two principles: (1) As a
framer, you should never do anything to an artwork that would alter it
in any way; and (2) Anything you do should be completely reversible.
This involves using materials and methods that will preserve the
artwork in the state that it was in when framed, as much as possible.
It includes using things like acid-free matboards and backings, hinges
and hinging methods that are acid-free and reversible, and archival

Without taking your piece apart just yet, let’s do a little detective
work. You do not mention the vintage of the framing on your
lithograph, but I am assuming that it was done some time ago, and
probably used nasty things like cardboard, regular (as opposed to
acid-free) matboard and methods that would make a good archival framer
cringe. Gluing a lithograph to a mat or to a backing board would
definitely fall into this category.

To verify this, take a good, close look at the bevel of your mat,
where it contacts the lithograph. Is it yellowed? Almost brown? This
is the acid in the matboard deteriorating the board itself, and
consequently, the artwork that it is touching.

Paper artwork should be attached to the mat only at the top, and, of
course, should use acid free materials and archival methods. Any venue
in which an artwork is hung, outside of a museum, will experience
changes in temperature and humidity. Paper reacts to these changes by
moving slightly--contracting and expanding. Does the lithograph hang
fairly flat in the frame, or is it rippled? If it shows lots of
rippling (most likely diagonal), it was probably attached on all four
sides to the mat, and probably employed tape or glue. If it is
perfectly flat, on the other hand, it may have been glued down to a
substrate (matboard, backing board or foamcore) or drymounted. If it
is somewhat flat, with gentle swells in the paper, it may have been
properly mounted in the mat, or at least mounted in a way that may be
reversible with a minimum of damage.

All that being said, the only way to know for sure the condition of
your piece is to take it to a good framer and have it opened up. When
you look for a framer, check their ads for wording like “archival” and
“conservation”, to make sure that they are not just a
poster-in-a-metal-frame outfit. To open up a piece to get a look at
it, and then button it back up again, should be no more than $5 or
$10, but you can call and ask. If you decide to have that framer
reframe the piece, there should, of course, be no charge for taking it
apart in your presence. After assessing the extent of the
framing-induced damage, a good framer should be able to tell you if
any of it can be reversed, or if the progress of the deterioration can
be halted.

The difference in price between the two lithographs that you know of
($500 and $1700) is likely due to condition, all other things being
equal. So it may be that the selling price of the $500 lithograph
already has damage of some kind factored into it. If we assume that
the $1700 selling price represents a piece in good condition, and the
$500 piece represents a damaged work, then you can see that the $500
piece has lost more than 70% of its value!

Unless the piece is extremely rare (and this does not appear to be the
case) condition is always a major factor in assessing value.

Here are some additional sources of information regarding conservation
framing, damage caused by acid or improper framing, caring for
lithographic artworks and paper artworks in general:

Tamarind Institute
Caring for Your Lithographic Print

Art Source International

Conservation Framing
Framing Terminology

Archival Framing Guidelines

I was able to download a picture of your lithograph here:
It is No. 463 “Bmp format. Mabel Dwight. Dusk, 1929. Lithograph of
children standing under a streetlamp.” It is the file entitled
“” and you will need an unzip utility to extract it.

And there was a mention of Mabel Dwight and “Dusk” here:
St. Charles Public Library
St. Charles, Illinois
“Dusk" American Artists Group Prize for Lithography, Society of
American Graphic Artists, N.Y.C., 1950

I hope that I have given you some useful information, nona75, and a
reasonable guess as to what effect framing-induced damage may have on
the value of your artwork. If you do decide to have the piece removed
from the frame, and can provide any additional information on the
actual condition of your piece, and the condition of the two pieces
for which you have sales figures, it may be possible to give you a
more precise answer. Should any of the above be unclear, please do not
hesitate to ask for clarification.



Search criteria:
"Mabel Dwight" dusk
archival framing value damage % OR percent OR "per cent"

Clarification of Answer by bethc-ga on 27 Aug 2002 09:15 PDT
Thank you so much, nona75, for letting me know that my answer was
helpful to you. (And for the stars--we all love those!) It's very
difficult to make important decisions without the proper information.
I wish you the greatest good luck in settling your brother's art

nona75-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
What a wonderful, helpful answer!  Thank you for overcoming any
reluctance to give a subjective opinion.  You gave me exactly what I
needed.  Also, the speed of answering was most helpful as I need to
make decisions now on art inherited from my brother and my knowledge
in the area is weak.  Thanks again.

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