Issue #4  8/15/1999
Photo Collecting Tip Of The Issue

By Alex Novak

Avoid photographs that were issued after a photographer died.  Most such portfolios are not considered to be collectible by the vast majority of today's serious collectors and have little if any secondary market (read auction resale) value.  The reasons are several:

1.) Since there was no review of the prints by the photographer, there are more questions as to whether or not the print meets the intentions of the artist.

2.) Most of these later printed portfolios were not very limited in quantity--some being as high as 1,000 copies made.  Rarity is always a factor.  And most estates are frankly greedy.

3.) Unsigned late prints are always susceptible to fraud and greed.  There is no guarantee that the estate won't print more.

4.) The best guarantee on a print maintaining its value is that it is vintage, signed and rare.

5.) Print quality on these type prints are sometime poor imitations of the originals, as are even late signed prints in many instances.

6.) Track record: frankly, with the exception of Diane Arbus prints made after her death, most such prints have flopped badly, rarely increasing in value.  And even in the case of the Arbus prints, her own vintage work has gone up more than the later prints issued by her daughter Doon Arbus, although the prints by Neil Selkirk are decent and the estate put a genuine limitation on the prints.  But don't expect the exception to BE the rule.

Novak has over 45 years experience in the photography-collecting arena. He is a long-time member and formally board member of the Daguerreian Society, and, when it was still functioning, he was a member of the American Historical Photographic Society. He organized the 2016 19th-century Photography Show and Conference for the Daguerreian Society. He is also a long-time member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers. Novak has been a member of the board of the nonprofit Photo Review, which publishes both the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, and is currently on the Photo Review's advisory board. He was a founding member of the Getty Museum Photography Council. He is author of French 19th-Century Master Photographers: Life into Art.

Novak has had photography articles and columns published in several newspapers, the American Photographic Historical Society newsletter, the Photograph Collector and the Daguerreian Society newsletter. He writes and publishes the E-Photo Newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the field. Novak is also president and owner of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, a private photography dealer, which sells by appointment and at exhibit shows, such as AIPAD New York and Miami, Art Chicago, Classic Photography LA, Photo LA, Paris Photo, The 19th-century Photography Show, etc.