How to Tell a Lionel Barrymore Original Print

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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.

Lionel Barrymore
(Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
Step 1

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.

Vintage photography
Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Step 2

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.

Archived Artwork on display
Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Art restoration and appraiser
Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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Tips & Warnings

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

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