The program offers opportunities to collect important, interesting railroad photographs at an affordable price, and also provide financial support for the Center’s ongoing programs. Began in 2009, when the Center offered two limited-edition prints of Jim Shaughnessy photographs. Like other photo-based nonprofits sell prints from well-known photographers, the Center prices its photographs well below gallery rates in San Francisco, New York, or Chicago. The selection and prices give an incentive to collectors to purchase artwork they like while helping an organization they believe in.
To put the Center’s offer in context, consider that most fine-art photography prints from major artists now range from $2,000 to $3,000 (Richard Steinheimer prints, for example), to $3,000 to $7,500 (David Plowden), and up to half-a-million dollars for blue-chip artists like Andreas Gursky. Photographs by Mel Patrick, Howard Pincus, Wayne Depperman, John Gruber, and Richard Steinheimer (again) that appeared in the Starlight on the Rails show at the Robert Mann Gallery in 2000 brought between $750 and $1,500 each. Plowden prints once sold for $125, and the asking price today regularly exceeds $3,000.
Collecting photography is fun and rewarding. Foremost, it brings aesthetic pleasure; secondarily, it can prove a better investment than many stocks. You can see the prints themselves on display at this year’s conference, and they will be available over the next twelve months or until the editions run out. We will continue to unveil new selections in the same price range each year, featuring them also on the website. Future participating photographers might include Mel Patrick, John Gruber, or Greg McDonnell. If you have suggestions or recommendations, please let us know.