Q. I have a very old chromograph of a picture by E.W. Haslehust printed by Ralph D. Tuck and Son Ltd. I have no idea if it is worth anything. I have looked for the original on the Web and found nothing. Is this worth anything? Is it worth saving? I would like to have it rematted and reframed. The copy has a small piece of material missing and the paper is very old and tends to be crumbly.
A. We would like to shout out a resounding "No!" to the idea of having this wonderful old print rematted and reframed. Both the mat and the frame appear to be the originals and are an integral part of this object's appearance and worth. To remove these would be a big error that would devalue the picture greatly.
Careful cleaning and rebacking with acid-free material, however, is an emphatic "Yes!" You might have to line the original mat with acid-free tissue, and make sure the back of the print does not touch cardboard. But other than that, a little professional cleaning should not hurt.
We are not terribly concerned about the "piece of material missing" because it appears to be very small and does not show in the front view or spoil the aesthetics of the print.
We found that the artist in question, E.W. Haslehust, did watercolors of scenes in York and Exeter, England. But perhaps his most famous image is of Selworthy cottage in Somerset -- sometimes referred to as the "Lorna Doone" cottage. The image in today's question is identified on the back as "Burton Mill, Dorset."
As it turns out, this print was not issued by "Ralph D. Tuck and Son Ltd.," but, rather, by Raphael Tuck and Sons, which was founded in Bishopsgate, London, England, in 1866. Originally, this company sold pictures and frames, but by the 1870s, it had begun expanding into a wide range of the graphic arts, producing such things as greeting cards, books and, most successful of all, postcards.
The company did some black-and-white printing in London, but most of the color work was done in Germany. The color work was referred to as being "chromographs."
In 1893, Queen Victoria granted the firm a royal warrant that allowed it to print on its products "Art Publishers to Her Majesty the Queen." Future English sovereigns continued this, and the notation on this picture, "Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen," suggests that this piece was probably made during the reign of King Edward VII and his wife, Queen Alexandra, who ruled from 1901 to 1910.
This cottage scene is very late Victorian in feel and is charming, with a young woman carrying a basket and walking down a path, leaving a thatched roof cottage behind. She is about to cross a rickety board bridge over a small stream that is emptying into a larger body of water. The whole picture is very atmospheric and is a tribute to a rapidly vanishing way of life.
Items published by Raphael Tuck interest many collectors, and this picture should be insured for somewhere in the $200-$300 range as long as it is all original and the small damage mentioned is not unsightly.
• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.