Prices paid at auction for Perlman's work are low.
Dear Helaine and Joe:
Several years ago, my husband and I were taken to the studio of Herman Perlman in the Washington D. C., area. He was a small man dressed in a long raincoat and had on high rubber boots. We purchased the piece shown in the photo and later bought his book “Herman Perlman — His Life and Art.” Our piece “Hasidic Dancers” is shown on page 74 of the book. We do not recall what we paid and have been having trouble finding out what it is worth. We would like you to give us an approximate value.
D. and B. W.
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Dear D. and B. W.:
Herman Perlman died of pneumonia more than 17 years ago at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. He lived in nearby Rockville and is generally listed as a Polish American artist 1904 to 1995.
At one time, Perlman worked for The Washington Post, where he drew caricatures of political figures and show business personalities. For a time, his caricatures of newly elected congressmen appeared in the newspaper three times a week.
Perlman briefly worked with Walt Disney and Max Fleischer, the creator of “Popeye the Sailor Man.” The Washington Post’s obituary for Perlman said that he also helped to, “artistically refurbish five bathtubs in the Truman White House …”
In subsequent years, Perlman became renowned as a glass artist, whose etched glass panels could be found on display in area hospitals, synagogues, universities and other public buildings.
Perlman’s glass art often encompassed Jewish themes such as “Under the Chuppa” (showing a bride, groom, and rabbi during the traditional wedding ceremony), and “Sabbath.” In addition he did a portrait of Albert Einstein along with memorials to both Eleanor Roosevelt and Robert F. Kennedy.
Perlman made some more generic images in his glass panels such as “The Folksinger” (showing a seated man playing a guitar), “Crew” (stylized men rowing), and “Rodeo” (featuring a cowboy on a bucking steer).
There is a myth that when an artist dies, the value and desirability of his or her art shoots through the roof. This is not necessarily so — sometimes the value of the work declines precipitously.
When he was alive, Herman Perlman set the value of the art, usually based on time spent, what the artist needed to support his lifestyle, and what the artist thought the market would bear. When Perlman died, the secondary market took over, and prices were set by the values realized at auction and by sales at retail outlets.
We found that prices currently being paid at auction for Perlman’s work are low. The highest we could find was $175 for “Adam and Eve,” and “Sound the Trumpets in Praise to God” brought $150, while the “Wailing Wall” and “Fiddler on the Roof” both sold for $100 each.
These are low prices but they demonstrate the state of the current market for Perlman’s work.
(Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of “Price It Yourself” (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, PO Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.)