As for values, these are very much dependent on condition and there are a number of factors that have conspired to ensure there are very few mint condition examples around today:
Framing - this is often a problem. These early prints were actually relatively inexpensive at the time of issue and were usually framed accordingly without the conservation methods we would use today. Our experience is that when removed from the frame typical problems include fading, cropping, mould, and damage caused through the use of non acid free tape. Serious collectors are often reluctant to pay significant money for early framed prints for this reason.
Fading – the quality of paper and inks used at the time were not nearly as good as those used today and the prints were much more susceptible to fading. This is probably the biggest single problem. The concept of collecting prints was in its infancy so most prints would have been bought with the intention of framing and displaying them, so most will have been exposed to fading and framing issues. It is sometimes difficult for the untrained eye to judge the extent of fading, particularly without an unfaded example for comparison, the usual giveaway is a noticeable blue tint to the print.
Signatures – in the early days some signatures were still done in ink, e.g. Douglas Bader on Dual of Eagles, whereas pencil does not fade with time ink does, we have seen some examples were the ink signatures have virtually disappeared.
Stored in original tube – these sometimes turn up and the owner will assume they are mint condition. Unfortunately cardboard tubes are not a good environment for prints, the tubes are usually made from a cheap cardboard material and chemicals are likely to leech out over time and damage the print – this often manifests itself in a light grey mottling known as ‘foxing’. Plus every time the print is taken out to show someone it receives unnecessary handling.
A mint condition print will never have been framed and will have been stored flat between acid free materials. If we had mint examples in our possession we would probably advertise Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster at around £500 each and Dual of Eagles around £700. For poor condition examples we have seen them change hands for as little as £50.
NOTE: As always if you are looking for values for insurance purposes please get a second opinion as the values we quote are based on our own experience and another dealer may have a different view.