How to Tell a Lionel Barrymore Original Print

By Tracy Morris
Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore is best known for his work in movies such as "It’s A Wonderful Life." But the Oscar-winning actor and director was also an accomplished artist. Barrymore studied painting in Paris from 1903 through 1907. Throughout his life, Barrymore continued to produce paintings and etchings. Today, his artwork is sought by collectors due to his status as a celebrity actor. Many prints of the actor’s etchings were made after he passed away. An original Barrymore may fetch as much as $200 at auction, while a reproduction may sell for as little as $2, according to the Knoxville News.

Vintage photography

Examine the print to determine if it is made on gold or silver foil. Gold and silver foil prints were mass-produced in the 1970’s after Barrymore’s death.

Archived Artwork on display

Examine the print under a magnifying glass. If the ink from the print is composed of very small dots, similar to newspaper ink, the print is a reproduction.

Compare the ink in Barrymore’s signature. If the ink of the signature matches the ink in the print, then the piece is a reproduction. Barrymore would have signed his original prints after they had been made. A print with a signature that matches the ink would have been made from a print block with Barrymore’s signature carved into it.

Art restoration and appraiser

Contact an art appraiser if you suspect that you have an original Barrymore print. An art appraiser can confirm your assessment that your work is original.

Warning

The value of an original Barrymore print may be less than the fee an appraiser would charge to verify that the print is authentic.

About the Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.