I have what i believe to be an original"Will James". I t is a large pen and ink, of a cowboy riding a bucking horse, and is signed, "Will James-1937". I know that this picture was used as an illistration in James's book Smokey, that was done around 1928. I found the image in my copy of Smokey, and if it's not the same, it's so close. I bought the picture from a man and wife, who said they bought it from James himself, around 1939 or 1940, at the Matador,Texas rodeo, where James was selling pictures and books. Both the former owners are dead now, so my information source has dried up, and i would like to know how to get the picture authenticated. I am told, if its an original, its quite vauluable, and even if it's an Old lithograph, it's vauluable. Where can i find out? I was told of a paper conservator in denver,colo, but they wanted 1500.00 to even look at it. Everyone else iv'e found says"send it to us" and then we'll tell you. I'm reluctant to just "Send" what may be a valuable original.
Congratulations, sounds like a terrific picture! Will James pen & ink pictures were hot this last year, selling for about $1,500 - $5,500. One outlier, a 12" x 14" from 1925 of a cowboy branding cattle, went for $25,000 at Cody Old West Auctions in June.
So, I hope you have the original.
I wouldn't hesitate to contact either of the two auction houses that are the primary outlets for Will James. They are not going to risk their businesses by ripping you off for one picture, and should be willing to work with you. To start the dialogue, email them digital photos, including (1) full front (2) full back (3) closeup, non-blurry signature.
Cold Old West Auctions
P.O. Box 2038
Carefree, AZ 85377
High Noon Western Americana Auction
9929 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Two galleries with strong credentials include:
Thomas Nygard Gallery
135 East Main Street
Bozeman, MT 59715
7113 Main Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
DO NOT PAY $1,500 TO ANYONE JUST FOR A QUICK APPRAISAL.
The above professionals will give you an opinion quickly.
Another thought is to simply find a local print shop or commercial printer who can quickly eyeball your picture to tell you if it is a lithograph or original pen on paper. A limited run lithograph might sell for 10% of the original, so still some value. Trust these dealers.
Best of luck. Yippee Cay-Aye Cay-Oh!