Original art by lesser-known artists is a better investment than prints by well-known ones.

That’s the opinion of Roy Carder, of Courtenay’s Fine Art in Westbourne Arcade, Bournemouth, who says that the economic crisis has resulted in galleries ditching prints to concentrate on original works of art, his included.

“I would rather pay £500 for an original painting by a lesser known artist than a print by a well-known one,” said Mr Carder, who has been an art dealer for 25 years.

“In the last 15 years there have been a lot of limited edition prints sold, including those by popular artists, such as David Sheppard. Seven years ago some of these prints would have been worth in excess of £1,500, but I doubt if I could get even £500 today for any of my stock.

“The secondary market in limited edition prints has collapsed. I don’t think it will return for some considerable time. Limited edition prices have shot up at cost because of expensive giclee printing.

“Ten years ago prints were produced on a lithographic press – a six-colour press with a low cost of printing perhaps £10 to £20 per picture. Publishers would print 295 and then destroy the plate. Now they are done on computer and saved to disk but high quality giclee inkjet printers can cost between £20,000 and £50,000.”

Mr Carder believes that buyers seem to have fallen out of love with English landscapes, preferring contemporary and minimalist art. As a consequence, traditional artists have had to learn to change their subject matter in order to maintain any level of success.

He added: “If you have £1,000 to spend, I don’t think it could be classed as an investment – you would have to spend between £20,000 and £100,000 on art for it to be.”

But he conceded that “interest rates are so low that you don’t need to make much of a profit to outperform building societies”.

Courtenay’s Fine Art sells between 200 and 300 paintings a year with an average price of between £400 and £500, with most sales generated through the website.

An investment section of the site lists paintings ranging from £800 for a scene by Ted Dyer to £10,000 for a painting of the Rolling Stones by their former tour manager Michael Charsley: “which has followed the band around from dressing room to dressing room” to £58,000 for The Bush by Rolf Harris.