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.
Looking to buy a Lowry print? Read our dedicated L S Lowry Buyers Guide.
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. Moreover, October 2022 saw a new auction sale record for a Lowry painting, with Going to the Match (1953) selling for £7,846,500 (including fees) at Christie's. The record sale followed on closely after the highest price for a Lowry print was achieved at auction in April 2022 at Bonhams, London, achieved by the Going To The Match (1972) lithograph after the painting. Works continue to regularly exceed their estimates: In September 2022, for example, a lithograph by Lowry realised £7,905 (including fees), more than doubling its £3000 pre-sale high estimate, at Bonhams, London.
As demand continues to grow, here are some points to consider before you sell.
The value of a Lowry print can vary significantly, with prices ranging from £1,000-2,000 to £10,000-15,000 and beyond. In 2022, signed limited edition prints by L.S. Lowry sold at auction for prices anywhere between roughly £500 to an astonishing £39,360.
Prints can vary in value according to a number of factors: the edition size, subject matter, whether the print is after a popular Lowry painting (such as his 1960s and 70s prints), condition and quality. It’s possible to get a sense of market value by looking at recent sales prices online and researching auction prices across the major auction houses. Trends – like major exhibitions, anniversaries or unexpected record sales – can also influence the market. No single factor can determine your print’s worth.
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.
Prints released in a low edition–the smallest Lowry edition size is 75– are generally rarer and more sought-after but, for a Lowry work, the subject can trump edition number. For example, the most expensive Lowry print at auction, Going To The Match (1972) which sold for a staggering £39,360 (including fees) at Bonhams in April 2022, came from an edition of 300.
The painting on which the print is based, Going to the Match (1953), is the current record-holder for the most expensive Lowry painting at auction: having sold for £7,846,500 (including fees) at auction with Christie's in October 2022. 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. Going To The Match prints remain desirable for their football theme, historical sales and familiarity.
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.
While looking at auction histories, edition size, subject matter and Lowry's signature can give you a ballpark estimate of how much you can hope to sell for, the best way to value a L.S. Lowry work is to ask a specialist to take a look. At MyArtBroker, we offer free, zero-obligation valuations, just get in touch.
Additionally, our dedicated print market index, MyPortfolio, can offer the more nuanced and case-by-case answers demanded by this question.
It is crucial to ensure that any Lowry print you are selling has clear and verifiable records of its provenance. This means tracing all its previous owners since it was first sold. Such evidence is essential in establishing the authenticity of the artwork.
Most of Lowry's prints are signed, but not all of them. If a signature is present, it should be handwritten in pencil, in the paper margin underneath the printed image. This type of signature is a more significant indicator of authenticity than a signature in the print itself, which is usually copied from the original painting. The majority of Lowry's prints feature a Fine Art Trade Guild 'blind stamp.' This stamp is a logo that creates a depression into the paper, and it is an excellent indicator of authenticity. The Fine Art Trade Guild's stamp design shows a man and three letters to his right.
Finally, Lowry's prints usually have edition numbers marked in pencil. These numbers can range from 75 to 850. The combination of the signature, 'blind stamp,' and edition number can be the first step in distinguishing a genuine Lowry print from a fake.
As a seller of Lowry prints, it is your responsibility to ensure that the artwork you are selling is authentic. By verifying the artwork's provenance, signature, blind stamp, and edition number, you provide buyers with peace of mind that they are investing in genuine Lowry prints.
After provenance, condition is perhaps the most important thing prospective buyers will consider when looking for a Lowry print. 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.
Over the years prints may bear signs of wear and tear; paper can buckle, the sun can damage the colours, tape can leave a mark, and a sheet can become stained or discoloured. 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.
If a piece is not in perfect condition you can send it to an expert conservator who can flatten the paper and ensure any signs of damage are lessened or removed entirely. However, prevention is always better than cure, and it’s important to keep your artworks safe from damage by mounting them on acid free paper behind UV protective glass, keeping the temperature stable and humidity to a minimum. You should always handle and store unframed prints with care, wearing gloves and keeping them away from potential damaging agents such as light and water.
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.
If you have questions about the conditions of a Lowry print, contact MyArtBroker and we can put you in touch with a professional restorer for their recommendations.
It’s always worth thinking carefully about when you sell, as with most things, timing is everything. Often a major retrospective can drive prices up for an artist and Lowry is no exception. 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.
Sellers should also bear in mind that if a similar piece is on the secondary market you don’t want to have to compete against it, a move which would only serve to affect both prices negatively. It’s best to wait until there seems to be a gap or evidence of a desire for the Lowry you are selling.
The final practical decision when it comes to selling your L.S. Lowry print is where and how to make the sale. The main options are through an auction house, via an online platform, or through a private sale. 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.
Deciding on the right platform to sell a work will depend on your own level of confidence and expertise in the art market, but auction houses and galleries will often take significant fees off sellers, while MyArtBroker charges sellers 0% to sell. Obviously, we’re big fans of private sales and believe it helps both buyers and sellers, which is why we do it. But there are advantages and disadvantages to all the methods.
If you decide to go with an auction house, they will appraise your work for free and help you set a reserve price. Their specialists will determine authenticity, condition and value of the piece. An advantage of auction houses is that they will often have a good audience of collectors so for a one-off original sometimes it makes good sense, and you might find a better price than you would via private sale.
However, on the day of the auction, luck will play a significant role and you may be up against similar lots that have the potential to weaken the appeal of your piece. For prints, it’s rarely the most cost-effective way of reaching a buyer. You’ll also have to wait 2-3 months for a sale date and you’ll have to cover transport costs and the substantial fee – often up to 15% off the seller.
Selling through a private gallery or a brokerage such as MyArtBroker can often be a good bet for the inexperienced than going through an auction. Private brokers give you access to a network of clients they know well and who will be interested in your L.S. Lowry print.
Private brokers can also help you with questions around authenticity, how to set realistic prices and supply potential buyers at a much more leisurely pace than the stress of an auction.
At the same time, a private sales partner, like MyArtBroker will be able to negotiate immediate payment for your print from a collector, meaning there is no obligation to settle for a lower-than-expected price (as you might at auction) and that the final sum is with you faster. When it comes to auction houses, they may not be able to consign your print immediately (for example, if the same print edition is already being featured in a sale), and if the next print sale is five months off, you will simply have to wait.
To learn more, we recommend reading our comprehensive Guide To Auction v Private Sales.
MyArtBroker will introduce you to your own personal expert broker who will find you a buyer and guide you through the process without any charge to you— you can get to know our friendly specialists here. Our brokers will help you with authenticity and condition checking, offer advice on realistic sale prices and the optimal time to sell plus manage the negotiation from start to finish.
As we value your prints as much as you do, our brokers will always ensure they negotiate the best price for you. Even better, it’s free to sell!
With over 30,000 collectors buying and selling artwork daily, and over 75,000 visitors to our website every month, at MyArtBroker we have a worldwide network of private collectors, brokers and galleries to help you find the right buyer at the right price.
Our online platform also lets us market your piece discreetly, saving you the hassle of dealing with potential buyers or the stress of an auction. It also means your artwork is on display 24 hours a day, reaching your target market while you get with other things.
Get in touch with us here if you’re interested in selling a L.S. Lowry print and we’ll talk you through the process.
Or request a free valuation for your L.S. Lowry print here.