Shotei Gallery - Sales Gallery

Sell Your Prints - Pricing of Prints

Determining the appropriate price for a print is a complicated matter. Here are 3 parameters which must be considered to come up with the optimum price for your print, in your particular situation. They are described, in some detail, below.

In practice, there is another consideration in setting prices which I believe is irrelevant, however it is worth noting here. That is basing the sale price of a print on the price that the current owner paid for it. I've visited with many print dealers who set their prices in order to realize a pre-determined percentage of profit over what they paid. At the time of acquisition, this makes sense, but as time goes on, this sometimes leads to prints priced either too high or too low for the current market. As a buyer, I love it when this strategy leads to a price that is too low. It seems to me that prints which have languished in the for-sale inventory of a collector or a dealer should be periodically re-evaluated in light of the current marketplace conditions and re-priced appropriately.

Supply and Demand

In the shin hanga marketplace, some artists are more in demand than others. Amongst various prints for the same artist, there are some for which the demand is greater. Some prints were produced with a large number of copies, while others had a much more limited production.

Sometimes, I'm baffled trying to figure out demand patterns, but here are some points that I've noticed:

One time, at a print show in Seattle, I came across a dealer who had multiple prints by Hiroshi Yoshida which she was selling for between $2,500.00 and $4,000.00. She also had an original painting by the same artist listed for $850.00. I liked the painting, considered in my own mind that it was under-priced, and decided to buy it. As we were completing our business transaction, I asked the dealer how it was possible that an original piece could be worth less than a mass-produced print. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "I have no idea. It's just harder for me to sell his paintings than it is to sell his prints, so I price them accordingly."

Theoretically, supply and demand balance out, but everyone knows that there are inequities in this dynamic marketplace. Buyers hunt for under-priced items, knowing that they are there to be found. Sellers of particularly scarce prints tend to set high prices and they often succeed in selling their prints. The environment is continually changing as trends come and go.

It keeps me interested; that's for sure!

Condition Issues

The rating system assigns a ranking from zero through 5.0 to summarize the facts about a print's condition. Zero is a basically unattainable rating signifying that a print has no redeeming qualities. 2.0 is the cutoff point between prints which are to be considered "collectible" vs. prints which have only decorative value. A rating of 5.0 is assigned to prints which are pristine, and which are in the same condition that they were when they left the publisher's hands. The range between 2.0 and 5.0 is necessarily subjective and represents an attempt to summarize the various condition issues which have affected the print being rated.

For an in-depth discussion about the condition rating system click here.

From a collector's point of view, prints in excellent condition command a much higher price than prints with significant flaws.

Desired Speed of Sale

In discussing the appropriate selling price of a print in a gallery, it is important to understand the desired time frame for a sale. After the supply/demand balance and condition issues are considered, the best that you can come up with is a range for a gallery selling price. That range may be quite wide with the high end being as much as 1½ times the low end price, sometimes even more.

The desired speed of the sale will dominate the discussion about where to set the price, within that range.

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