Buying prints is a great way for those without the very deepest of pockets to get into collecting art. With values ranging from a few hundred pounds for a signed Mary Fedden signed print to up to £10,000 for a Bacon, there is often something for everyone. If you are looking to decorate your house, are interested in art but don’t have a spare £20 million in the bank, these types of prints can provide a way to invest for less. For those fed up of High Street pictures or posters but who aren’t looking to re-mortgage the house in the process of creating a collection, owning a limited edition signed print really is the second best thing and can make a worthy bedfellow to original artworks as and when budgets allow.

As this idea has cottoned on with both younger buyers and also amongst the trade, we have seen a massive increase in the number of bidders looking to buy prints, with a series of records beaten for certain examples earlier this year. This has also been backed up by a number of new companies which have sprung up recently selling prints of vintage or antique paintings, such as @themuseehome on Instagram and also King & McGraw.

Mary Fedden, Cat on a Cornish Beach, 1991, estimate £100 - £200 available in the Art & Design Sale on 27th May

It is well known that in 1987 Andy Warhol signed copies of Interview magazine. Usually costing around $2, following Warhol’s signature he sold them off for $50 and that is the key element of investing in a signed lithograph or etching. Value is all in the signature and the rarity of the item, or how many copies were made at the time. Many artists later got on this bandwagon, including Francis Bacon, Lowry, Chagall, Warhol, Hirst, Richter and Picasso. Not all lithographs or etchings can be worth huge amounts in value, however the ones which have fewer copies and signatures of artists who are de rigueur at the time can be sold for tens of thousands. The key here is all about the involvement of the artist at the printmaking stage. A lithograph or an etching requires the artist to draw an image either with a crayon or greasy pencil or engraving onto a metal plate which is then printed onto paper and reproduced in limited numbers. Lower edition numbers are more valuable and sought-after, so for example, a Bacon print may have been repeated only 100 times, whereas many Lowrys had an average print run of 850, making the Lowry lower in value. The lower the edition number and the clearer the signature, the more desirable.

In the current market, the key post-war artists of the 20th and 21st century are the ones to watch. Recent records broken at Cheffins were for prints by Victor Pasmore, Ben Nicholson, Dame Elisabeth Frink and Lynn Chadwick, all of which are now selling for into the thousands. However, whilst some of the biggest names are now seeing higher values, the opportunity still remains for investment into these pieces with smaller budgets, along with the added benefit of potential value growth as the market continues to gather pace. For example, at the Curwen Press Sale, Cheffins sold a series of signed prints from a series of lesser-known artists, from as little as £40 up to over £300. 

Salvador Dalí, Sacred Cow, from the Hippies Series, estimate £400 - £600, available at Cheffins Art & Design Sale on 27th May

There are a series of prints available in the next Art & Design Sale at Cheffins on 27th May. These include two signed lithographs by Mary Fedden, one named ‘The Orange Mug’ and the other titled ‘Cat on a Cornish Beach.’ As these were produced in fairly large print runs, these have estimates of £100 - £200. Similarly, an etching titled ‘Sacred Cow’ from the Hippies series signed by Salvador Dali from a smaller print run is expected to sell for between £400 and £600. Whilst an abstract piece by German artist, Paul Wunderlich, has an estimate of £200 - £300 and three separate lithographs by Oskar Kokoschka, all signed, featuring pastoral scenes have estimates of £300 - £500 apiece.

In addition, we have included another sale into our calendar, The Affordable Art Sale, which will take place in July and is set to include a number of signed prints and lithographs. 

To view the signed prints available at this month's Art & Design Sale, check out the catalogue here .