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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Helen Allingham Society?

The Helen Allingham Society was started in 2000 by Tom & Katy Schaefer in an effort to celebrate the beautiful art and unique talent of Helen Allingham, and to share the joy of her works around the world. The Society is non-profit and informal, that is, we are not incorporated and do not collect dues or provide paid services for members. At this time the website is our principal means of creating a community of Helen Allingham admirers, but we plan to formalize and grow the Society in the future. This is truly a labor of love intended to educate visitors and spread that peaceful feeling one gets from viewing Helen's lovely watercolours.

How do I become a member?

While the Society does not have official "members", we consider all who sign up on our mailing list to be members of our community. The mailing list is used rarely and only to communicate important news, as we do not want to contribute to the pile of spam you probably already receive every day. The best way to keep up to date on auctions and other news is to visit the website. When we do formalize the Society, those on the mailing list will become charter members.

How is the information I provide for your mailing list used?

All information gathered for the mailing list is kept private and not used for any purpose other than distributing news to members. We do not sell, give, loan, or distribute in any way the mailing list information to any third parties and will not use it for spam.

Does The Helen Allingham Society buy or sell paintings?

The Society itself does not buy or sell art, but we may be able to put you in touch with a buyer or seller. Just let us know what your specific interests are and we will try to be helpful.

Can I buy Helen Allingham prints from the Society?

At this time we do not sell any prints, but the Books & Prints page of our website lists several Internet companies who offer Allingham prints. If you know of any others, please let us know and we will add them to the page.

Does the Society have a museum where I can see Helen Allingham paintings?

No we do not have a museum --- maybe someday!

Can the Society arrange for a speaker for our art club meetings?

Annabel Watts, the authority on Helen Allingham, is available for giving talks to organizations, as well as conducting guided walking tours featuring the cottages painted by Mrs. Allingham. Annabel lives in Surrey, England, and can be contacted directly by clicking here. For more information on Annabel, click here.

How do I go about buying a Helen Allingham watercolour?

Helen Allingham watercolours can be purchased at auctions, through dealers, or from private parties. A dozen or so of her paintings come to auction each year, mostly in England. When I learn of such auctions I list them on the Auctions & News page of the website with links to the auctions. Most auction houses allow absentee bids by phone or email if you cannot be present for the auction, but be sure to read their rules carefully. Certain art dealers and galleries tend to specialize in British watercolours, again mostly in England, and these are listed on the Links page of the website. If you are seeking a specific work, it is best to engage the services of a consultant or expert who can find the piece and negotiate on your behalf. We can help in this regard.

Can I buy Allingham paintings on the Internet?

Yes, but be very careful. If you are dealing with the website of an established auction house, gallery or dealer, your transaction should be safe, but there is no guarantee the picture will be genuine. While reputable dealers will generally use their best efforts to be honest and protect their reputation, they may not be an expert in Allingham's works, and simply offer the picture based on the style and signature. This is true whether on the Internet or not. Be sure to read the rules and return policy carefully. If you are buying on the Internet from someone you do not know, be extra careful - getting a refund from a stranger may be much more problematic!

I sometimes see Allingham paintings come up on eBay. Are these genuine?

While I have seen a couple of Allinghams on eBay that looked genuine, the vast majority are not. Think about it - if a seller truly believes he has an original Allingham, why offer it in a less sophisticated auction such as eBay where it will likely realize perhaps only 10 to 20% of it's true value? eBay provides a place for buyers and sellers to do private transactions, but they cannot police or judge all of the transactions - fact is you are buying from a stranger.

eBay is a great place to shop and does offer fine art - in fact I have bought many paintings there myself - but one must be very careful when buying sight-unseen from a stranger. If you would like to bid on an expensive painting on eBay, check the Feedback rating of the seller, and read all the negative comments. Also, study the wording of the listing - are they stating the painting is genuine or merely saying it has an Allingham signature? And feel free to write the seller for additional provenance details and photos, even request additional close-ups if needed, and clarify their return policy, if any. Don't be shy, ask questions, including why they are offering the painting at a low reserve on eBay. Sellers who hedge, duck, or do not cooperate should be avoided.

I have a picture that looks like an Allingham scene. How can I tell if it is an original watercolour?

The best way to distinguish an original watercolour from a print is to examine it with a strong magnifying glass. The image in a print is usually made up of tiny dots, like you would see in a newspaper photo only smaller. An original watercolour has no dots, and the dried paint and brush strokes are often visible. In addition, watercolour paper has a rough surface, generally with tiny fibers or hairs visible. Also, look for any labels or writing on the back of the picture for clues, such as an exhibition number or auction label. If you have any doubt, bring the picture to a gallery or museum and ask for advice. They can usually tell you very quickly if it is an original painting, but not necessarily if it is a genuine Allingham.

I have a picture that claims to be an original Allingham print from 1903. Is this real and does it have value?

Most likely the picture you have is a plate cut from Helen Allingham's book "Happy England", first published in 1903. This book has 80 colour plates, all about 11x14cm (4x5+ inches), and these plates are often cut from books having broken bindings and sold as "original" Allingham pictures. They are "original" in the sense that they came from the 1903 first edition of the book, but are not original watercolours. They are fairly common and have little value, perhaps 10 to 15 pounds each, a bit more if framed.

I have a first edition of Helen Allingham's book "Happy England" published in 1903 (or her book "The Cottage Homes of England" published in 1909). What is my book worth?

The value for these books depends on the edition and condition. A signed deluxe first edition in fine condition can bring several hundred pounds (500 to 1000 dollars), while an unsigned regular first edition in fair condition may be worth only a few pounds (25 to 75 dollars), again depending on condition. These often come up on eBay and can also be found on Amazon or on rare book websites. If you compare your book to others being offered in similar condition you should be able to get a good idea of its value.

I have an original watercolour signed H. Allingham. How can I tell if it is genuine?

This is a task for an expert. First thing you can do is send us a digital photo or scan of the picture, as well as a close up of the signature. While we cannot confirm if it is genuine from this, sometimes we can spot a clear fake. You can also often get good advice from a reputable auction house or dealer, but since they deal in so many artists they can hardly be expected to be an expert on all of them. For the best advice I recommend you see a true Allingham expert. We can provide you with some guidance - just write us.

How important is the signature?

The signature is a good clue but not proof of anything - signatures can be forged. Helen Allingham had a fairly consistent signature and signed "H. Allingham" on the lower left or lower right of the painting (See example). While Allingham fakes are not as common as some better known artists such as Myles Birket Foster, they do occur, so buyer beware.

I have an original watercolour by Helen Allingham. What is it worth?

Value depends on a number of factors. Size and condition are naturally important, but the subject and provenance can be equally or more important. All else being equal, a large painting is generally valued more than a small one, and one in perfect condition is worth more than one with faded colours, tears, water damage, or foxing (small reddish brown spots). Personal scenes, such as those inside the Allingham home or with her children, may fetch considerably more than cottage scenes, and her cottage pictures are more valuable than landscapes. A painting that was featured in a book is often better known and admired, so these will also have a greater value. And a solid provenance adds as well, especially if the painting was previously owned by a family member or famous person. Value can be hard to predict - even the "auction estimate" from large auction houses sometimes misses by a mile. But you can be sure a genuine Allingham will be valuable, and it is worth consulting with an expert or professional appraiser, especially for insurance purposes.

Where can I find an expert consultant on Helen Allingham?

The authority on everything related to Helen Allingham is Annabel Watts. Annabel has researched Helen Allingham for nearly 30 years and has tracked down over 150 cottages and buildings painted by the artist, many of which are featured in her interesting book "Helen Allingham's Cottages Homes Revisited". Annabel regularly consults for auction houses and art dealers and is available to help individuals as well in finding, authenticating, and valuing Allingham paintings. Annabel can be contacted directly by clicking here. For more information on Annabel, click here.

How can I learn more about Helen Allingham?

There are several great books about Helen Allingham's life and art featured on the Books & Prints page of this website. In addition, guided walking tours of Helen Allingham's haunts and cottages in Surrey are available from Annabel Watts.

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