An etching is usually much more affordable than original art created by a well-known artist, but still has an air of exclusivity as the artwork is not mass-produced.
Important factors that have the potential to increase the value of an etching prints are:
- Has a limited quantity (limited edition)
- Is numbered (another sign that it’s from a limited edition)
- Is signed by the artist
- Was hand-printed by the creator of the original artwork
Etchings usually keep or increase their value over time.
Here’s a list of some more qualities that make etchings worth more money:
- Artist: An artist’s popularity, backstory, and death will greatly influence the cost of an etching.
- Materials: Generally speaking, an etching print made with archival inks and paper has a higher value than an etching made with lower-quality materials.
- Condition: An etching’s physical condition is an important factor. Tears/rips, water damage, fading, dirt, and discoloration can all decrease the value of an etching.
- Authenticity: An original etching print that is created directly and personally by a particular artist is worth more than an imitation or a copy (print) made by a mechanical printer.
- Provenance: A record of who the etching belonged to can also be used as a guide to authenticity and quality. If an etching was once owned by a famous collector or came from an esteemed art gallery, the value of the print will greatly increase.
- Historical Significance: First, the value of an etching will increase if the artwork had any importance to art history in its genre (category). But world history also affects the value of the artwork since it’s often a reflection of cultural, political, economical, social, and military history.
- Auctions: Just the sudden feeling of excitement bidders can have at an auction, especially if the auctioneer is skilled at making an auction exhilarating, can raise the price of an etching.
How Can You Tell if an Etching Is Real?
A common way to tell if a print is a hand-printed etching or a print made with a machine is to look at the artwork under a magnifying glass and looking for the following:
- An etching won’t have any dots like you typically see in photographs or other prints that come from a printing press.
- The lines in an etching won’t be sharp.
- The plates used for an etching have a thickness to them, so it’ll leave a plate impression (dent) on the paper that you can see and feel around the border of the image.
- Typically, etchings are signed by the artist using a pencil.
How Do You Know if a Certain Etching Is Valuable?
If you’re really serious about knowing if a certain etching is valuable, find an art appraiser at a gallery, museum, or auction house (or just google “art appraiser near me“).
A certified art appraiser is trained to determine the authenticity and value of art, including etchings. They work with other art experts to compare etchings and to find similarities and differences that make the etching unique.
They’ll also look at the condition of the etching for any physical flaws.
If the etching is authentic and in good condition, they’ll do an evaluation of the market. They’ll look at former sales by the same artist, works in the same genre, the climate of the market in general, and the current demand for the artist.
All of this will allow the appraiser to give you a professional opinion of what the etching is worth.
How Much Are Rembrandt Etchings Worth?
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art. He was a draughtsman and painter, is also best known for his remarkable etchings.
Just to prove that etchings can be extremely valuable, Rembrandt’s etchings have sold in the range from $5,000 to $150,000 USD.
Although you might not be able to buy one of Rembrandt’s etchings or paintings, you can buy inexpensive (but high-quality) Rembrandt prints on iCanvas.
So now that you know if etchings are valuable, go ahead and buy etchings (my two favorite spots for finding affordable etching are Etsy and Saatchi Art), support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!