Top 5 factors to Determine Value for
Art & Antiques
Quality and Condition
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When it comes to collecting, how do you know that you are getting
a good value? In addition to doing your homework about a work of art or antique that you want to add to your collection, what else
should you look for? What questions should you ask the seller about the object in question? How should you determine if that
object is of real value?
During a recent appearance on Comcast CN8 TV’s
Money Matters Today show, I discussed some tell tale signs of value when it comes to
art and antiques. Like all marketplaces, value indicators abound in the world of art, collectibles, and antiques. There are some
common value indicators that can help both novice and seasoned collectors identify value or as some call it, “the good stuff”.
The five basic value indicators are good signs to follow when starting a new collection or considering a new addition to an
While numerous elements impact value and help drive the market, the fab five of value indicators include quality, condition,
scholarship or publication record, exhibition record or public awareness, provenance. You might be surprised to learn that age is
not in the top five.
Age is not an automatic indicator of value. That means that just
because you have something old, that doesn’t mean that your object is automatically of high value. Sure, age and historic value is
important when assessing a work of art or antique, but it is not the only important thing. Remember, you have junk (low quality or
poor condition items) in your house and your grandmother probably had junk in her house too. Grandma’s stuff may be older junk, but
like all other low quality objects, if it is of inferior quality and in poor condition, it’s still junk.
Quality is king when it comes to evaluating fine art and
decorative art. Some of the more famous names in the antiques and collectibles world like Tiffany, Chippendale, and even
Hummel have made their reputations based on the quality of the materials used
and their dedication to craftsmanship.
Condition is key to the value of any work of art, antique, or
collectible. Obviously, if an item is damaged or repaired, it may be of less value than an object in good condition. If the piece is
professionally restored, that restoration will alter the value, but it will not devalue an object’s value significantly as long as
it is properly conserved.
Gaining scholarly attention or securing a publication record for your object will only serve to help increase the value of your
object. As well, an object with a pedigree (a piece acquired from a major collector or a celebrity), a strong provenance, or an
impressive exhibition record derived from the work’s inclusion in major museum shows and gallery exhibitions, will only positively
impact the public awareness and value of your work of art or antique.
That’s why if the MET calls and asks to borrow your original, signed Maurice Sendak poster, I’d strongly advise you to
lend it to them happily. If you are really art savvy, give them permission to publish a picture of your piece in the accompanying
exhibition catalogue, too. Heck, offer to drive it to the museum for them!
Don’t forget that when starting a new collection or adding to an existing one, it is best to collect in a category. Remember, most
of us tend to be potpourri collectors –buying one of these and one of those—and mixing them together. That collecting method usually
results in clutter, not a valued collection. Collect in a category and add quality items within your collecting category as you add
pieces to your collection. Value is not in the eye of the beholder, rather, it is based on educating your eyeballs and
constantly refining your collection.
Masterpiece Technologies Inc.