Dox Thrash & his carborundum prints
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    Auction Finds

    Reader asks about where to buy a Dox Thrash print

    Friday at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources to help them determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    Today’s question is where to buy a Dox Thrash print (or other work of art).

    Dox Thrash's "Fishermens," which slipped through my fingers. It sold at a local auction a few years ago.

    Dox Thrash’s “Fishermens,” which slipped through my fingers. It sold at a local auction a few years ago.

    Question:

    I’m in the market for a Dox Thrash. Who (or what) would be my best resource for getting one?

    Answer:

    My answer will always be “at an auction,” and preferably one where you’re the only bidder. That’s a very unlikely scenario, because even the smallest mom-and-pop auction houses will likely have buyers who know the names of most listed African American artists. And Thrash falls pretty high on that list.

    I have a tough time trying to snag a piece of African American anything these days because black art and black memorabilia sells, and for a dealer, it’s like striking gold.

    I bought a small Thrash watercolor many years ago from Dolan/Maxwell gallery in Philadelphia, which specializes in the artist. I missed out on one of Thrash’s carborundum prints at an auction a few years ago because there were too many people who wanted it just as badly as me.

    Dox Thrash's "Man in Window," a watercolor that went unsold at Doyle New York. Photo is from the auction house website.

    Dox Thrash’s “Man in Window,” a watercolor that went unsold at Doyle New York. Photo is from the auction house website.

    I did a quick Google search for the sale of works by Thrash and turned up some works at reasonable prices. But there were others that reached much much higher.

    In April, four of his works were auctioned at Swann Auction Galleries in New York. Three sold for $2,250 to $11,250. In a 2012 sale at the auction house, three works estimated at $6,000 to $15,000 did not sell.

    Last November, several of his works went unsold at Doyle New York auction house. They were estimated at $1,000 to $3,000.

    Dox Thrash's "Sunday Afternoon"

    Dox Thrash’s “Sunday Afternoon,” an etching that sold for $3,000 at Swann Auction Galleries in New York. Photo from the auction house website.

    Here are a few suggestions for places to search for not only Thrash but other artists whose works you’d like to add to your collection:

    1. Check out Swann’s twice-yearly African American art sale, and bid by phone or online if you’re not in the area. Also try the websites of Doyle, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago (which conducted Oprah Winfrey’s auctions), Freeman’s auction in Philadelphia and other sites that have sold Thrash. If your interest is not African American art, Google your artist’s name and see what auction houses have sold his/her works and do the same.

    2. Try buying through a reputable art gallery in your area. If the gallery does not have what you’re looking for, ask the owner to find it for you. This will likely be the costly way to do it.

    3. If there’s no art gallery around, do a Google search, looking especially for one that specializes in African American artists or your particular artist. The web has made it very easy to find and communicate with just about anybody, including gallery owners. A gallery that wants to make a sale should be willing to help you, because they win, too, if they can put you and a seller together. It’s a good idea beforehand to decide how much you are willing to pay for the work.

    4. Get on the email list of sites that aggregate auction houses, such as invaluable.com and liveauctioneers.com, which can alert you when works by your artist comes up for auction.

    5. Get on the email list of auction houses in your own area – you can locate them through auctionzip.com or by Googling – so that you are regularly notified of their sales.

    6. Go to estate sales, house sales, yard sales. It’s a longshot, but sometimes people don’t know what they have (or what a deceased relative had) and sell valuable items for little money. At estate sales and house sales conducted by a professional, that person may have already removed anything of value. But maybe not.

    7. Consider checking out antique and thrift shops where you live or travel. You never know what gems are hiding there.

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