Appraisers determine the value of old prints by assessing the condition of the print, determining the number of prints within the print run and evaluating the subject matter of the print itself. They compare this information with the purchase price of other similar prints to make an estimation of the value of the print.
Signed prints are more valuable than unsigned copies. Determining the type of print, which could range from a lithograph, planograph or monoprint to a screen print, is also an important part of establishing the value.
Many prints contain a notation that consists of two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is unique to that specific print, while the second number indicates how many prints are part of that print run. A print that is part of a small print run is typically more valuable than a print from a larger run.
Prints of popular and admired historic figures, such as Simon Bolivar or Napoleon, also cost more than prints of notorious historic figures, such as King John of England or Marie Antoinette. Prints of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln cost more than many other types of prints because many people admire both men.
Accurately appraising print values is difficult because of the limited amount of price guides for prints. Some appraisers believe that print databases that contain information about print sales prices have limited usefulness because these databases do not record sales from antique shops, book stores and other venues where prints are for sale.