Quick and affordable online appraisals of pen & ink drawings

Communicate directly with a qualified pen & ink drawings specialist and get a fair market valuation of your item, typically in 48 hours or less.

Quick and affordable online appraisals of pen & ink drawings

Communicate directly with a qualified pen & ink drawings specialist and get a fair market valuation of your item, typically in 48 hours or less.

How much is my pen and ink drawing worth?

Have you recently inherited or purchased a pen and ink drawing and want to know its value? Mearto provides quick and affordable online appraisals of pen and ink drawings. All you have to do is click on the “Start Appraisal” button above and follow the steps to send us information about and images of your pen and ink drawing. One of our qualified and experienced specialists will review and get back to you with a fair market and insurance value, typically within 48 hours.

Have questions about the valuation provided, or would you like some advice about selling your pen and ink drawing? We are here to help! Our platform allows you to chat back and forth with a specialist to ensure that all of your questions are answered. 

What are the different pen and ink drawing techniques?

Pen and ink drawings are created by applying ink to a (usually) paper surface. Pen and ink drawings are usually characterized by the bold contrast of using black ink on white or lightly colored paper.

There are four traditional types of shading techniques that are used in pen and ink drawings:

  • Hatching is using straight parallel lines to uniformly represent the volume and light values of a drawn object.
  • Cross Hatching is very similar to hatching, but a second set of parallel lines is drawn perpendicular to the first set creating a darker sense of shading where the lines intersect.
  • Stippling creates volume and shading by laying numerous small dots close together. Dots places closer together give a sense of darker, deeper shading, while dots spaced further apart give a sense of more light or dispersed shadow.
  • Smooth shading is best achieved by using an ink wash, while the above shading techniques are best achieved using a pen. Smooth shading with ink is the same behavior one might use with any other aqueous media like watercolor. The artist uses water to dilute the ink and create smooth transitions between dark and light shades.

Who are some notable artists that work in pen and ink?

Pen and ink drawing was a method historically used for artists to create studies for larger works however, in addition to being used and recognized as a medium for final masterpieces, artistic “studies” can also be considered finished and valuable works of art. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens, Vincent Van Gogh, Egon Shiele, and Kathe Kolwitz are all exceptional examples of pen and ink artists and have had their works in pen and ink highly valued.

What damage can occur with ink drawings and washes on paper?

Ink can be applied to paper in a variety of ways. When ink is applied to paper as an aqueous solution (meaning-waster or liquid base), if too much water or liquid ink is added to paper (depending on the thickness of the paper) the paper can shrink or pucker as the medium dries. 

Ink drawings are also subject to smudging and damage from dirt, so it is important to ensure that the finished piece is varnished with a fixative (if the original artist did not do this, consult with a conservator). This finish also gives the drawing a uniform look.

Additionally, pen and ink drawings are susceptible to the following forms of damage:

  • Foxing: Foxing is an extremely common and unavoidable paper affliction that happens as paper ages. It appears in the form of reddish brown spots caused by the iron in the paper and mildew spores that feed on the paper.
  • Acid Burn: Acid burn is usually caused by wood or wood pulp coming into contact with the paper. Wood is very acidic and can cause a browning of the paper. A matte containing wood pulp or a wooden frame without a barrier between the wood of the frame and the print can cause acid burn. The process can usually be reversed by a professional paper conservator, but the process is not cheap!
  • UV Damage: Paper is sensitive to light. The thinner and lower quality the paper, the more susceptible to UV damage. UV light damage can cause fading or yellowing of the paper.
  • General Filth: If the paper has been out in the open and unframed, it is likely that it has accumulated some grime or filth from handling and surrounding conditions. This can usually be cleaned by a professional paper conservator. Framing the paper behind glass can help prevent an overwhelming build up of grime, but dust can still make its way into the frame and onto your work. A periodic and gentle dusting of the unframed work with a very fine, soft brush that will not cause surface abrasions.


Lindsey Bourret is the Managing Director at Mearto. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the business, she also enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge of the fine art and antiques market with our customers through our website, blog, e-newsletter and social media accounts.

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If it can be sold at auction, Mearto can provide an online appraisal.

From fine art to furniture, antique firearms, jewelry and more, our specialists apply unparalleled knowledge and expertise to provide a fair market valuation and answer any questions you may have about your item.