Collecting fine art is a pastime often associated with the fabulously wealthy. This isn’t just an indication that rich people appreciate culture—they have found throughout the centuries that art can be a good investment as well. It is possible for those with more limited resources to purchase artworks as an investment, and lithographs are a popular choice. Are they a good investment? The answer, as with so much in the world of fine art, is “it depends.”
Lithographs are authorized copies of original works of art. Sometimes these copies are made by the artist; sometimes the copies are made by someone else. In general, print runs of lithographs are kept low to preserve the value of each individual print. While a lithograph will rarely bring as much as the original artwork, they can be quite valuable even while being relatively more affordable. If you are considering buying one, look for these factors to assess the lithograph’s worth and potential for appreciation:
Rarity: The more copies of the same lithograph there are on the market, the less any individual piece will bring. In some cases, the original plate will be destroyed after the print run, ensuring that no future copies of the piece will be made to dilute the value of existing lithographs.
Quality: The quality of the print itself can contribute or detract from the value of a lithograph. Learn what you can about the process used to produce the image, as some lithographs are printed using traditional artisanal methods, which can boost the value of individual prints.
Condition: As with any other kind of artwork, the condition of the piece itself can greatly influence its value. A well-preserved lithograph without marks, dirt, or tears will obviously be worth more than if it is damaged.
Artist: Paradoxically, a famous artist may not be your best choice for purchasing a lithograph for its investment potential. Lithographs by extremely famous artists tend to command top dollar from the outset, which means that there is less potential for growth. You may be better off looking for attractive lithographs from up-and-coming artists—the advantage here is that you’re likely to pay less at the outset.
Authenticity: You’ll want to be sure that the lithograph you purchase is in fact authorized. Many of the signs you’d expect to find on or with an authorized lithograph—a certificate of authenticity, hand numbering, and even an artist’s signature—can be faked, unfortunately, so it is best to purchase your artwork from reputable dealer or auction house you trust.
It’s worth remembering that you should be prepared to hold onto any artwork you purchase for investment potential for a long time. The value of art tends to appreciate slowly, and is subject to the whims of artistic fashion. Your best bet is to choose a high-quality lithograph that appeals to your own taste, so you can enjoy it until you decide to sell. If you’re ready to consider purchasing a lithograph, check out the live online auction at Auction King. We offer below-market prices on fine art every day. Sign up for a free account to get started.