If you are in the market to sell a L S Lowry print, here are a few pieces of advice before you start your journey, to make sure you sell at the right time and achieve the right price.
There has never been a better time to sell an artwork by Lowry. Between 1999–2019, the average price for a Lowry print jumped from £500 to £4,000. Major exhibitions like Tate Britain’s Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life in 2013, as well as the 2019 biopic film Mrs Lowry & Son, have helped to fuel the artist’s recognition and market value.
February 2020 saw a new auction record price for a print by Lowry and works regularly exceed their estimates. A lithograph by Lowry realised £21,250, far above its £15,000 high estimate, in Christie’s Prints & Multiples auction in London on 18 March 2020. As demand continues to grow, here are some points to consider before you sell.
The price of a Lowry print is affected by many factors, including its edition number and rarity; how iconic or popular the subject is; its condition and its history. Trends – like major exhibitions, anniversaries or unexpected record sales – can also influence the market. No single factor can determine your print’s worth.
Prints released in a low edition are generally rarer and more sought-after but, for a Lowry work, the subject can trump edition number. Lowry’s smallest edition size is 75, but the most expensive Lowry print at auction, set by Going To The Match for £25,000 on 29 February 2020, came from an edition of 300.
Going To The Match was far more desirable for its football theme and its familiarity. The original painting had made headlines in 1991 when it was purchased by the Professional Footballers Association from a Sotheby’s auction. It is now on loan to The Lowry, Salford, for the public to enjoy. In addition to being one of Lowry’s most popular pictures, the recent print of Going To The Match also had a strong provenance and was in excellent condition. Each of these factors played a role in its recording-breaking price.
Clear records of your print’s provenance, showing all its former owners since the work was first sold, is essential for proving your Lowry is real – so make sure your print’s paperwork is in order before you try to sell.
Signatures and ‘blind stamps’ are also good ways to prove that your Lowry print is authentic, although not all Lowry prints have these. More details below.
Lowry’s prints were released in editions of 75 to 850. The edition number was often, but not always, handwritten in pencil in the paper margin. Together with the signature and the ‘blind stamp’, the handwritten edition number can be the first step in distinguishing a genuine Lowry from a fake.
A real Lowry signature should be hand-signed in pencil, in the paper margin underneath the printed image. There may be a Lowry signature on the print itself, but this is copied from the original painting – the pencil signature is a firmer sign of authenticity.
Not all authentic Lowry prints are signed, however, so a Fine Art Trade Guild ‘blind stamp’ is also considered a reliable proof of authenticity, as most genuine Lowry prints have one. The design of a Fine Art Trade Guild ‘blind stamp’ features a man and three letters to his right, all depressed into the paper.
Lowry famously claimed that he painted in only five colours: flake white, ivory black, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and vermilion red. As such, there is an expectation that his prints should reflect these strong, bold colours. Faded colours – either due to poor-quality ink or bleaching from sunlight – will reduce the value of your print. Yellowed paper, mould stains, wrinkles or other signs of age and damage will also affect the print’s value.
It is worth taking your print to a professional conservator for an assessment and, if needed, to restore it to its top condition to ensure it sells for the best price.
There are many options for selling your Lowry print, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Many new sellers turn to online marketplaces, such as eBay, as they have a large, established audience and a small commission rate. But these platforms have a greater risk of fraudulent buyers and time-wasters, and less chance of reaching a dedicated Lowry collector. Without expert advice, you may also undervalue your Lowry print.
Auction houses are more credible and trustworthy but selling comes at a price. They will appraise your work for free and help you set a reserve price. On the day of the auction, however, there is no guarantee that your print will sell – an unsuccessful sale could result in the piece being ‘burned’, losing its credibility and short-term value. In the happy event that your print sells, you will need to pay up to 15% of the hammer price in seller’s fee, plus cover marketing and transport costs.
Private brokers can give you access to a large network of collectors, much like an auction house. Whether you’re a new or experienced seller, here at MyArtBroker we can help you with questions about authenticity, how to set a realistic price and supply potential buyers at a much more leisurely pace than the stress of an auction. We offer to sell any work for free, 0% seller’s fees, no hidden costs.
If you’d like any more advice on how to sell a work by Lowry, just let us know. You can request a valuation of your artwork any time and we will respond within 12 hours.