Tips For Purchasing Florida Highwaymen Art
Since the release of Jim Fitch's 1995 article, there have been many changes in collecting Highwaymen art.
Paintings that once sold for $25 to $100 now sell in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. I saw
a folk genre Harold Newton painting sell at an auction recently for over $30,000 and I have heard of others
selling for considerably higher sums. With prices reaching these levels, stories begin to circulate about
forgeries. The rumors circulating around about widespread fake Highwaymen paintings are false, but forgeries
do exist. Because they usually command the highest prices, most forgeries are of Harold Newton and Alfred Hair
paintings. The purpose of this essay is to help neophyte collectors from purchasing art which is not authentic.

Let's begin by defining who is and who is not a "Highwayman." If you purchase paintings on ebay, do a search in
the "Art" category for "Highwaymen." You will encounter many sellers who list their paintings as "Highwaymen"
art when the artist is not actually one of the original Highwaymen. The original Highwaymen are the artists who
were listed in Gary Monroe's 2001 book "The Highwaymen, Florida's African-American Landscape Painters" and
who were subsequently inducted by the State of Florida into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. You can find a list
of these artists on this site on the "Highwaymen History" page. If they're not on the state's list, they're not
recognized as an original Highwayman. There are some artists who painted with members of the original group
and for one reason or another were left off the list made by Monroe. Generally, it was because they had moved
away, had gone on to other vocations or had actually painted very little in the early days. This was truly
unfortunate for them because of the tremendous resurgence in demand for this art genre. If you purchase art
by these artists, do so because you like it; not because you think it will grow in value. For investment purposes,
it is probably better to stick with the artists on the state list.  

Probably the best advice for buying authentic art is to study the artist's style from recognized authentic pieces.
We'll take Harold Newton as an example but the same principles apply to other artists. Look at the Harold
Newton paintings on this website, on the websites listed on the "Links" page, in museum exhibits, books and
wherever else you may find examples. Look carefully at how he painted his birds, his palm trees, and clouds.
Harold painted all these components in several styles and they changed somewhat over his many years of
painting. Study them all. Compare his early work on canvas board and Upson versus his later Masonite pieces.
Harold started using Masonite extensively in the mid 1970's. The vast majority of his paintings after this period
until his death in 1994 were on Masonite. All of the paintings my father-in-law bought from Harold were on

Study the signature. This is not as reliable as knowing the artist's style but it can sometimes reveal a fake.
Harold had some peculiarities to his signature. I always thought his signature looked like the letters were in
motion. Before I knew much about Harold, I would look at his signature on paintings Earl bought from him and
think, "that's the guy who signs his name with dancing letters." What I mean is that the letters are tilted in a
certain manner that makes them almost look like they're moving. The letters in Harold's signature often tilt
heavily to the right, especially the "E." He also wrote the "t" in his name in a manner opposite from the way most
people write a "t."  Harold always crossed his "t"
before writing the downstroke. The "o" was most often not the
usual circular stroke but two "c" strokes facing each other. You can see an example of these qualities in the
photo below. Familiarize yourself with signatures. It can help you spot a fake.

One piece of advice when purchasing Highwaymen art on ebay or anywhere else. If you are not familiar with the
style of a Highwaymen artist whose work you are interested in purchasing, it is advisable to  only buy from a
source that you can trust. There are some reputable dealers on ebay but there are also some dishonest folks
out there who pop in from time to time with a fake painting. Don't buy blindly - know who you are dealing with.  If
you're not familiar with Highwaymen art, instead of buying online, you may want to go to a gallery or reputable
dealer. This is especially true when buying high dollar pieces. You may pay a little more, but it is well worth the
extra money to be assured of getting authentic work. It also enables you to look at the painting in person before
An Example of Why To Be Careful When Buying Online
Scammers Rob Painting Images From Website And Sell Them As A Painting On Ebay
This wonderful Harold Newton painting was sold by Highwaymen expert and art
dealer Bob LeBlanc. Bob maintains a website, www.highwaymen-buy-sell-trade.com,
where he displays art he has currently for sale as well as some of the extraordinary
paintings he has sold in the past. Recently on ebay, a seller imported the images of the
above painting from Bob's website and listed it as a painting for sale. Bob checked
with the collector who purchased the actual painting from him and it was still in his
possession. Whoever purchased this "painting" on ebay is out a lot of money.
Another example of why you should be very careful when buying online.
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