Each original Ansel Adams photograph, as it comes into our inventory, is assessed for condition as a part of establishing the price. The result of this assessment is to classify the print’s condition as “pristine”, “excellent”, “very good”, “good”, “fair”, or “poor”.
If this seems heavily weighted to the positive side, there is a reason – once you get below “good”, the finer differences don’t matter. To us, “poor” means the value is zero (in that it would be impossible for us to sell it, although someone would probably buy it for a price), and “fair” means the value is close to zero (in that it would be impossible to put a price on it that could be justified to either the buyer or seller, but probably could be sold).
Classifying a print’s condition is not straight forward, the degrees of severity are often a matter of personal opinion, and subject to biases. We try to be as objective as possible, which means we are probably more severe than most. These are our criteria:
Condition, Pristine - Absolutely no damage to the print surface. Also known as “mint”. It is very rare that we will assign this condition to a print.
Condition, Excellent - Minor flaws or damage to print surface, visible only under close inspection in a raking light.
Condition, Very Good - Minor flaws or damage to print surface, visible under close inspection under standard viewing conditions OR numerous areas of minor flaws or damage visible only in a raking light.
Condition, Good - Numerous minor flaws or damage to print surface, visible under close inspection under standard viewing conditions.
Condition, Fair - Minor flaws or damage that is readily visible from a standard (3 feet) viewing distance and / or visible once noticed.
Condition, Poor - Everything else, and usually enough to make you cry.