Formerly The College Watercolor Group - 601-986-5152 -

Gray's as Collectibles

From the beginning, the nostalgic subject matter and fine detailing of Gray's Watercolors of familiar scenes have made them seem natural collectors' pieces. Not surprisingly, then - with the passage of 40 years - it is becoming more and more common to find references to Gray's prints in estate sale and auction notices, alongside antiques and other items of potential value to attract collectors' interest.

Blair Arch, Princeton Univ.

Old Lawrenceville Church

The history of Gray's prints bears some resemblance to Currier & Ives prints of a century earlier in that the Currier & Ives prints, which initially sold for less than a dollar when first catalogued by sale and auction prices in the early 1900's, have more recently been recorded as bringing, in some cases, many hundreds of dollars. Similarly, in 1967, a pair of Davis Gray pochoir prints of Princeton University sold for $6, and at an auction in 2003, the same paintings brought $125. The previous year, a Gray's pochoir print of the American Revolution - Two if by Sea - commissioned by Provident Savings Bank of Boston in 1974 and having then sold for $6.95, was purchased at eBay auction for $75. A Gray's pochoir, Old Lawrenceville Church, has been auctioned for $200. (The original artwork from which prints were reproduced and which once sold for $45, is now valued at many hundreds of dollars.)


Gray's Certificates of Limited Edition

The increase in value may be attributed to several factors besides the intrinsic value of the prints themselves. Many of the Gray's pochoir editions were accompanied by certificates of limited edition, providing specific evidence to the total number of prints produced in the series, usually in quantities far less than art print editions at the time - often 100 to 200. They were most often produced in series of several scenes, usually four or more, and there is now the wish to acquire those scenes needed to complete a set. With the death of two of the artists, James Gray and Davis Gray, the most prolific of the Gray's artists, value of their work has increased. Finally, Gray's pochoir (hand painted) prints are no longer being produced and, already, a number of the prints in existence are no longer available except as they may be found in secondary markets, i.e., antique shops, galleries, gift shops, auctions, etc., usually priced well above $50.

Like most collectibles, of course, some may find their way from attics to yard sales and thrift shops at very reasonable prices; however, as they continue to grow scarcer, they will undoubtedly continue to command greater prices, making this an ideal time to acquire them.

Still, the greatest excitement of owning Gray's prints may be that enduring reaction to discovering a home town scene…"I know where that is!"

Collectors' Hints:
Very few Gray's watercolor prints bear a date as to when they were produced (although many have dates in the titles of the scenes, i.e., circa 1850, denoting vintage of the subject matter.) However, there are two ways to possibly identify and date an authentic pochoir print:

Backing sheets. Three different backing sheets were used when matting the pochoir (hand painted) prints, each of which denotes a particular time period. A fourth identifies laser prints. (See illustrations below.) Note: Any print bearing a 'Heritage' backing sheet is not a genuine Gray's print. A small square sticker on the back of a painting bearing the legend 'This is an original' identifies the painting as an original watercolor from which prints were reproduced and may be valued at up to a thousand dollars.

1965 - 1968 (Pochoir)

1969 - 1991 (Pochoir)

1992 - Present (Pochoir)

1994 - Present (Laser)

Signatures. All Gray's prints were signed on plate with one exception - limited edition prints of Beaumont, Texas, which were signed individually by the artist, Davis Gray. The signing artist and the style of the signature are both possible clues to the age of the print (see About the Artists and Davis Gray signature illustrations below)




Most pochoir prints were reproduced on medium-to-rough textured watercolor paper rather than smooth paper. Original watercolor paintings can be further identified by the stiffness/rigidity of the paper.

For further information, call Gray's Watercolors at (610) 867-5087 or email the company at