Lithograph Prices Falling?

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Lithograph Prices Falling?

Postby Okito » June 8th, 2008, 8:09 am

Is it just me, or are lithograph prices falling? With exceptions, of course, it seems that prices have been dropping. By way of example, the following link shows a Kellar half-sheet portrait with no bids and a low "Buy-it-Now" price compared to historical sales prices.

Is it the economy, a saturation of the market which some would argue began with the Egyptian Hall sale, or something else?

Kellar Lithograph

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Lithograph Prices Falling?

Postby Kevin Connolly » June 8th, 2008, 8:36 am

I don't know if it can be any one answer. The Kellar poster that you have a link to is a half sheet. From my experience, it's the one sheet that seems to be the most desirable. That goes for Kellar, Houdini, etc.

The decline could be partly Egyptian Hall. I know that the sepia Kellar dropped after a handful were sold there. The Fechner sales must be considered too.

The decline could be any of the reasons you mentioned. You may want to toss in the "New Blood" factor. If no new collectors come into the market, when some bigger collections are sold in the next year or so, they won't be absorbed. That will be a further decline in prices.

But what the heck do I know.
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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Lithograph Prices Falling?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 8th, 2008, 11:10 am

The price of magic posters has dropped greatly in the past five years from the historic highs of the 1990s. Now is a good time to buy, not sell.
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Robert Newman
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Re: Lithograph Prices Falling?

Postby Robert Newman » June 8th, 2008, 4:47 pm

The Strobridge Kellar portrait at shown at your link is washed out in coloration.
As a guess, I would say that it has been displayed in direct lighting and/or without benefit of a UV resistant glass or plexiglas covering.

As to the preferability of the 1-sheet over the 1/2-sheet example, my experience has shown that the preferable example is the description of whichever one is currently being offered for sale.

The same seller has offered an example of the 1910 Strobridge Howard Thurston portrait with the same lack of bids.

The Thurston image was so dark it appeared that old Howard had spent the winter on the beach in Miami. This same example had numerous interior tears and lost paper restorations performed in many areas of it including Thurston's image.

He has also attempted, many times, to sell what appears outwardly very fine example of an unmounted Strobridge 1915 Thurston Levitation vertical 3-sheet with the same unsatisfactory (for the seller)results.

The problem?
$25K opening bid price. (slightly but not materially reduced at his last attempt)

The inflated opening minimum amount + no mounting of any type + it's less popular 3-sheet dimensions = No Bids

Prices declining?

On mediocre examples of some works, on most examples of widely held pieces ie. Grover George, Otis executed Carter the Greats,
certain Thurston themes, regardless of condition, executed by Otis ie. Vanishing Whippet, She Floats..., Alexander Reds, etc. and other performers and themes of note.

Investment grade lithographs have held their own in terms of prices commanded in the secondary market and quite a few have continued to climb in price. Principally the more rare Strobridge Kellar and Thurston performance pieces and Chung Ling Soo and Houdini just about across the board.

The halcyon days of $1250.00 George 1-sheets and $750.00 Fak Hongs are no longer with us.

On the other hand, the current economic environment in this country has had the positive effect of forcing fine examples of the truly rare magic lithographs into the market where the seller is still king.

As to the sepia Kellar portraits, I reviewed the recent sales of two examples in my database to my cost records of the same examples in my collection and both were price neutral ie. no material movement in resale prices either up or down.

What I do know is that I have been approached with more truly rare examples in A to A+ condition in the last six months or so than I have encountered in my entire collecting experience.

And I have puchased a large percentage of the above and consider myself extremely fortunate.

The days of a lithograph that is really nothing more than a restoration held together by a few pieces of original paper, without respect to its relative "rarity" commanding obscenely high prices is over and thankfully so

The first Christian Fechner sale was loaded with his floor sweepings and they brought high prices.

During the Fechner III sale, if it had not been for that East Indian bidder(s) many of the pieces would have been sold for 50% or less than the hammer value received while under that influence.

In the sale of any scarce commodity, the entrance into a market by a party or parties who either have no idea of a piece's worth or a total disregard for the amount paid for same will skew any auction results.
Hence $30K+ Full Stage Soo Bullet Catch 1/2-sheets.

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-Christopher Marlowe

Ken Trombly
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Re: Lithograph Prices Falling?

Postby Ken Trombly » June 16th, 2008, 2:57 pm

I think that with the Internet becoming the primary venue for magic poster sales,the transprency of ebay and others has resulted in the average poster collector becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated. However, there certainly are aberrations from time to time, such as when an anonymous phone bidder wreaks havoc at a Swann auction.

I note that on my website, , the better material continues to sell - and to go up in value. the more available, more entry level pieces, have seen less growth. Yes, I think it is a good time to buy, but buy discriminately.

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