FOUND > Yard Sale Prints Worth $76,000

Owner paid $5 a piece for a set of five

1 of 5 rare prints purchased at a yard sale for $5 each.
June 24, 2018
By Ruthie Bowles, Contributing Author for What Sells Best News

NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND - Antiques Roadshow reports that five prints purchased for $25 at a yard sale may fetch as much as $76,000 at auction.

THE DISCOVERY

An Antiques Roadshow guest brought in 5 prints she picked up at a garage sale for $25. She mentioned that she doesn’t often stop at yard sales anymore because “I get a lot of grief from my sons all the time, so I've been trying to, like, not do it as often”. However, she gave into the impulse that time.

Guest describes finding the prints at a yard sale, on Antiques Roadshow (4-minutes).

She purchased the prints only a few months prior, and brought them in for appraisal in a nice new folder. Robin Starr, the Director of American and European Paintings and Prints at Skinner Auctioneers, noted that the first print in the folder was signed by Edward Hopper, who was earning recognition as a great American artist when he created this piece.

Unrelated story about Hopper on CBS, describes one of the works found (8-minutes).

Robin Starr also noted that the following print was by Kenneth Hayes Miller, who hasn’t really retained his popularity, but was prominent during his life. She continued on, saying “What's interesting about seeing these two together is, the Hopper was in a portfolio called "Six American Etchings: The 'New Republic' Portfolio." That was published in 1924.”

The remaining prints were created by John Marin, Ernest Haskell, and Peggy Bacon, all of whom were also in The New Republic Portfolio. The Antiques Roadshow guest admitted that she left a sixth print behind, because she didn’t have enough cash to purchase all six. This sixth print was likely by John Sloan, called The Bandit’s Cave.

Ms. Starr then moves onto the estimated value of each print at auction. She estimated the Hayes Miller print at $80-$120 at auction due to it’s condition. The Haskell print, “The Sentinels of North Creek”, would be expected to fetch $200-$300. She valued the Peggy Bacon print at $500-$700 because Peggy Bacon was an “unusual female artist”.

The John Marin print, “Brooklyn Bridge Six Swaying”, is particularly interesting. Only a few editions of the portfolio were published before Marin swapped out this print for “Downtown, The El”. This makes the Roadshow guest’s prints extremely desirable.

More about John Marin by The Art Institute of Chicago (14-minutes).

Robin Starr completely floored the Roadshow guest with her value estimation of $15,000-$25,000. Her jaw dropped in complete astonishment. She was in for a second surprise when Ms. Starr revealed that the Hopper print is one of his best known, and could be expected to garner $30,000-$50,000 at auction!

WHY THEY'RE RARE

Founded in 1914, the New Republic was the leading progressive American Magazine. The magazine filed for bankruptcy in October 1924. Other publications had lured away their writers and subscribers, and they concocted a plan to stay afloat.

The New Republic offered a set of these original signed etchings with each 2-year subscription to the New Republic magazine.  According to an online entry by Harris Schrank Fine Prints, the original advertisement read in part:

“SIX ETCHINGS

Incomparable as Christmas Gifts

Originals – Not Reproductions: Each Proof Printed by Peter J. Platt, on Handmade Van Gelder Paper – Signed by the Artist, and Offered At Incredibly Small Cost with a Subscription to The New Republic ‘The Ablest of America’s Weeklies’ …“The difficulty with this offer is not to explain, but to refrain…Yet overstatement is almost difficult in face of the facts—the foremost of which (alone simply sufficient to testify to the quality of these etchings) is the names of the six artists themselves.”

A letter from Robert Hallowell, the secretary of the New Republic, to John Sloan in January 1925 revealed that only 500 to 600 were sold. The six print set exhibits the traditional approach to American printmaking, as well as the early American modernist printmaking approach.

SALE INFORMATION

There’s no information regarding a sale of this six-print set at this time.

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