Identification and Price guides for Antiques & Collectibles

Members Log-In
Forgot Password?

ART PRINTS & POSTERS - Various Printing Methods and Appraisal Values


Join the most updated and complete collectibles research online - Learn more...


ANDY WARHOL 'GRACE KELLY' 1984 - Color Lithograph
In this context, Printing is defined as a method of transferring ink or other dyes onto another surface, usually referred to as Printing Plates, effectively like stamping, but in a successive & careful manner and usually onto large surfaces. Because various printing methods have different costs or render a diverse range of quality of the printed image, determining the method by which an Art Print or Art Poster has been made, is often a good indicator of its value. Additionally, some methods were prevalent at different periods and can usually also be regarded as a sign of approximate age. Knowing how to distinguish which printing method was used can also be very helpful in avoiding reproductions and guard yourself against false claims.

For these reasons, it will be useful to briefly describe some of the most important and popular printing methods used by artists and how to tell them apart:

Offset Printing [aka Offset Lithography] - By far the most popular printing process today, primarily because of its very low cost, mass-production capability, and relatively consistently good quality. Once the design is rendered onto printing plates made of various flexible materials, usually rubber so that they can be attached to a roller, and using a Photo-lithographic & Screen printing process, it lends itself to an automated operation that can yield high volumes of inexpensive prints or posters. For a more detailed description, please see Wikipedia's article on Offset Printing. Used mostly for commercial or advertising posters, their value is practically very minimal. Other than for sentimental reasons or as a memento, Offset posters are not collectible in any appreciable numbers. The most common way to tell whether a print has been produced using the Offset method, is to use a magnifying lens and check for tiny dots, which are created during the Screen-printing step. Although the Offset printing process on paper was invented in 1904, most artistic posters using this method came into existence around 1920s and proliferated throughout the 20thC, until Computer-generated techniques were developed after 1990s. Nowadays, most reproductions claiming to be authentic Lithographs of some age, were made recently using this Offset method and are usually worthless.

Lithography - Named after the Greek word lithos, meaning stone, it uses stone plates, usually Limestone, that act as the Printing Plates. This is basically a manual process of first drawing the image on the stone and then running it through a series of steps to impress it on the surface, essentially creating a huge stamp. Each color requires a separate plate and all have to be aligned properly during the actual pressing. Lithography is preferred for artistic images because it maintains a high degree of detail onto the transferred image and also allows for varying tones or gradients in each color. Invented in 1798, it soon became the most important printing process employed by skilled master artisans and famous studios. Well-preserved posters made using Lithography, and especially from certain periods, are very popular with collectors. Most Lithography posters & prints were used as product advertisements and for announcing events or calls to action (war effort, attending a concert etc). Additionally, art posters & prints are rated based on their stylistic theme, for example Art Nouveau, French life etc, and very often command good prices at auction. Printed Images have slightly blurred edges, but the colored surfaces are smooth without any tiny dots that show on Offset prints.

Engraving - Involves engraving each image as a relief on metal plates (mostly copper, zinc or steel) using specialized tools. Highly painstaking work and requires huge attention to detail by extraordinarily skilled artisans & craftsmen. First invented in Germany around mid-15thC, it spread slowly and was used sparingly as it demands both exceptional skill and the materials costs can be appreciable. However, because of its ability to produce images of very fine detail, Engraving revived in popularity among artists around early 20thC. A common tell-tale indicator to recognize Engravings is their sharp detailed fine lines. In most cases, Engraved prints are monochromatic.

Etching - Similar to Engraving in as much as it also uses Steel Plates for pressing the image. However, in this case, the master image is impressed on the plate using chemicals (acids etc) prior to pressing. Also, invented in Germany about 100 years after the Engraving method, it is characterized by somewhat less sharp lines or detailing. This is often preferred by some artists as it renders images that are less austere and smoother and this printmaking process was adopted quickly and is still in widespread use. Additionally, being a less expensive method to produce the printing plates, it is not uncommon to see colored Etchings, especially nowadays, since each tint can be impressed on a separate plate and then aligned with the others in a successive manner, similar to Lithographic techniques.

Woodcut - Frequently associated with Japanese prints, Woodcut printing requires the image to be sculptured as a fine relief on wooden plates. Applied since ancient historical times, primarily in the Orient, it has been adopted by later artisans in the West. The resulting images can be less detailed than other methods and the lines are obviously coarser, which in itself is perhaps a desired effect for some abstract exotic renderings we often see at sales rooms or galleries in the Far Eastern style. Most are signed by the artists and usually include text in the form of poems, proverbs or a short story. Woodcut prints are very popular with collectors and fetch substantial prices at auction - but please be aware, there are many fakes or reproductions out there, so use caution and ask questions!

Although there are several other printing techniques for creating Art Prints & Posters, the above list covers the vast majority of methods that were employed by most artists and studios. Below are some examples of works and artists that are included in our Pricing Guides database.

Examples of related items from our Price Guides

































There are many more auction results available to our members...

Sign Up

Explore other items from our
Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide

  • Group of Twenty Books on American Modern
    and Pop Artists: Including: Dada Invades New York; Jim Dine Prints; New York Dada; Master Prints from the Lilja Collection; Clement Greenberg: A Critic's Collection; Elie ... [more like this]
  • Books: Antique American, European and world
    furniture Burton, E. Milby. CHARLESTON FURNITURE: 1700-1825. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1971. Chinnery, Victor. OAK FURNITURE, THE BRITISH TRADITION: ... [more like this]
  • MCNULTY, William Charles, (American, 1884-1963):
    Demolishing Century Theatre, New York, 1931, Trial Proof, One Only, Etching, Sight size 9 1/2'' x 12 1/4'', pencil signed lower right, titled lower left, under plexiglass ... [more like this]
  • Charles Hook Armco Steel Company Lot of Manuscripts
    & Documents Lot includes letters photographs pamphlets mostly from the late 1930s through the 1960s. Born in 1880 the youngest of four children of Henry and Katherine (Klussman) ... [more like this]
  • The Phillips Family Needlework Picture, Sarah
    Phillips (b. Rowley, Massachusetts, 1656), Boston, Massachusetts, c. 1670, worked in red, blue, yellow, black, and white wool and silver and gold metallic threads on a blue/green ... [more like this]
  • Grp: Modern and Contemporary Art Books:
    Large group of reference books, monographs, and catalogs on modern and contemporary art, including works on major movements such as Futurism and Synchromism, and artists including ... [more like this]
  • THE ROSS-MARIS-MCCREDY-RUCKMAN FAMILY PHILADELPHIA
    CHIPPENDALE CHINA TABLE, CIRCA 1765-1775. The four rectangular cabriole legs with flower and acanthus carved knees and ball and claw feet; gadroon and leaf border along base ... [more like this]
  • CHICAGO SCHOOL (FOLLOWER OF AARON DOUGLAS) Chicago
    World Fair. Gouache over pencil on wove paper, circa 1933-40. 465x315 mm; 18 3/8x12 3/8 inches. This unusual maquette design for an unknown or unpublished Chicago World's ... [more like this]
  • AMERICAN PLAY COMPANY / CENTURY PLAY COMPANY. THE
    BUSINESS OF SHOW: ARCHIVE OF MATERIAL FROM MAJOR 20TH CENTURY THEATRICAL AGENCIES. Bonhams is pleased to present the extensive archives of the New York theatrical agency, ... [more like this]
  • Framed Draper Painting, Nudes at Century
    Class, 1970s: **Originally Listed At $500**. . William Franklin Draper (American, 1912-2003). Untitled (nude study), gouache and watercolor, ca. 1970s. Signed "Wm. F. Draper ... [more like this]
  • CHARLES ZAWISTOWSKI (American 20th/21st Centuries)
    A CARVED WOOD SCULPTURE, "Cigar Store Indian, " MODERN, : A CARVED WOOD SCULPTURE, "Cigar Store Indian, " MODERN, carved and painted in colors, wearing native style attire ... [more like this]
  • Eighteen Books, American Furniture Includes
    Works by Charles Montgomery, Israel Sack, and Others detailed listing available. Michael Flanigan, American Furniture from the Kaufman Collection; Dean Fales, American Painted ... [more like this]
  • 19th C. Charles Bird King Lithograph of Tuko-See-Mathla:
    Charles Bird King (American, 1785-1862). "Tuko-See-Mathla A Seminole Chief. " Hand-colored lithograph from a folio edition of McKenney and Hall's Indian Tribes of North America. ... [more like this]
  • Thomas Jefferson Miniature Portrait by William
    Russell Birch William Russell Birch (English 1755-1834) enamel on copper portrait of Thomas Jefferson unsigned with?Jefferson?written on verso; 1.5 x 1 in. Frame and case ... [more like this]
  • 2V PICTURESQUE AMERICA 1872/1874 Antique
    American History Exploration Naturalism & Art Plates Western Frontier Title: Picturesque America; or the land we live in. A delineation by pen and pencil of the mountains, ... [more like this]
  • Andres Molinary (Gibraltar/New Orleans 1847-1915)
    "Le Chemin des Chapitoulas" oil on canvas signed lower right a typewritten label reading "Mrs. Boullemet 2625 St. Charles Ave" en verso 18 in. x 30 in. in a period frame. ... [more like this]
  • Outstanding Life-Size Flying Mallard Pair The
    Ward Brothers, Lemuel T. (1896-1983) and Stephen (1895-1976) CRISFIELD, MD, 1936 AND 1937 The Wards' ability to capture likeness of species is on full display with this grand ... [more like this]
  • Jasper Francis Cropsey: (American, 1823-1900)The
    Campagna of Rome, 1874, signed and dated lower right "JF Cropsey 1874", 18 x 30 in. ; fine period gilt wood liner in fine possibly reproduction gilt wood and composition ... [more like this]
  • GROUP OF ANTIQUES REFERENCE BOOKS.
    The Pine Furniture of Early New England Russell Hawes Kettell English Domestic Brass 1680-1810 and History of its Origins Rupert Gentle and Rachael Feild Living With Antiques: ... [more like this]
  • CHARLES WHITE (1918 - 1979) I Have A Dream
    Series, #11 (Study for the Wall). Oil on thick illustration board, 1968. 406 mm; 16 inches diameter (tondo). Signed and dated in oil, lower right recto. Inscribed "Title: ... [more like this]

This list is limited to only a few results.
Many more items are available to our members through our Price Guides!

Ideal research tools for Collectors, Personal Property Appraisers, Antiques & Collectibles Dealers, Auction Houses, Museums, eBayers or other online sellers (Rubylane, Etsy etc) and curious minds interested in appraising & identifying collectibles

Sign Up

Easy & Visual methods to Identify & Appraise Antiques & Collectibles



Sign Up

Helping our members since 2004




Privacy, Terms and Conditions
Copyrighted Material - All rights reserved.