Q: Years ago, my great-aunt gave me a hand-colored etching done by Robert Dighton in 1802. It’s 9 by 12 inches and shows an actor named Mr. Braham playing the character of Orlando from Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It.” My great-aunt thought it was worth some money.
A: Robert Dighton (c.1752-1814) was a British actor and printmaker. His first prints were for John Bell’s edition of Shakespeare’s works (1775-76). He eventually made etchings of actors, actresses, military officers and lawyers and sold his prints at his own London shop. He wound up in legal trouble when it was discovered that he had stolen some of his store’s stock from the British Museum, but he wasn’t prosecuted. Even if your print is an original and in great shape, it would probably not sell for more than $100. And it is possible your print is a copy of the original and worth very little. It should be seen by an expert to be sure.