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I have a print by J. Hilary Worthington. How much is it worth?

Ben Steelman
StarNews

Art evaluations can be tricky, said John Bankson, a Wilmington personal property appraiser with a specailty in art and antiques. The variables can include the reputation of the artist, the size of the work, the medium and its condition, so an appraisal sight unseen is virtually impossible.

It’s even harder given the artist. Neither Bankson nor Merriman Kennedy of Wilmington’s New Elements Gallery have ever handled any of J. Hilary Worthington’s artwork, so it’s hard to get a baseline.

Still, a few generalizations are possible.

Who was J. Hillary Worthington? He was a longtime Wilmington artist, teacher and dealer, who died May 9, 1997, at the age of 70. Worthington had been a cost analyst with the Singer Corp. for 25 years before retiring to pursue his art full-time. He produced a large quantity of oil paintings and prints, generally realistic depictions of wildlife or beachscapes; wildfowl were a specialty.

A graduate of East Carolina University who had studied religion at Duke University, Worthington had never even picked up a brush before the age of 20. One of the organizers of the Wilmington Art Association, he was its president for five years, and he helped found the old Piney Woods Festival, held each Labor Day weekend for many years in Wilmington.

For years, Worthington operated a gallery and frame shop at Independence Mall, offering regional artists’ works as well as his own. He organized annual art shows at Independence Mall and Trask Coliseum and at 0ne time ran 57 arts and crafts shows up and down the East Coast, according to his obituary in the StarNews.

Worthington aimed at a popular rather than an academic market, and he turned out a large body of work, which might affect his sale price.

Among recent sales, a Worthington oil on canvas titled “Mallard Ducks in Flight” sold for $65 recently on eBay. Antiques Exchange, 5239 Oleander Drive, recently advertised a number of Worthington paintings at $75. Hampton House Antiques of Hampton, Va., sold a 1971 oil on canvas by Worthington, showing fishing boats at a pier under cloudy skies for $25.

The questioner’s print is on a religious subject. This might affect the price, said Bankson, since artists’ works normally sell for less if these are outside their usual subject matter or genre.

As for Worthington prints in general: In October 2012, a seller on Wilmington Craigslist posted an offer for a lot of 2,500 J. Hilary Worthington prints for a total of $1,500 – which works out to 60 cents per print.

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