The Art of Maurice Sendak poster

by Dr. Lori Verderame

When it comes to collecting or buying antiques, how do you know that you are getting a good value? How should you determine if that object is of value? Look for the value indicators.

Money Matters

There are common value indicators in the antiques market that can help both novice and seasoned collectors identify valuables or as some call it, “the good stuff”.  Look for the  basic value indicators when starting a new collection or adding to an existing collection.

While many things impact value and help drive the market, the fab five of value indicators are quality, condition, scholarship record, public awareness, and provenance. You might be surprised to learn that age is not in the top five.

Assessing Age

Age is not an automatic indicator of value. Just because you have something old, that doesn’t mean that your object is automatically of high value. Age 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 is just older junk.

Quality is king when it comes to evaluating art and antiques. Some of the more famous names in the antiques and collectibles world like Tiffany, Chippendale, and Hummel have made their reputations based on the quality of materials and a dedication to craftsmanship.

Quality and Condition

Sendak posterCondition is key to the value of any work of art, antique, or collectible. Obviously, if an item is damaged or repaired, it will be of lesser value than the same 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 for your object will help increase the value of your object. As well, an object with a pedigree (a piece acquired from a major collector, historical figure, or a celebrity) or a strong provenance  will impact value. An object with an impressive exhibition record from the work’s inclusion in major museum exhibitions, will only positively impact the public awareness and value of your work of art or antique.

That’s why if the Metropolitan Museum of Art calls and asks to borrow your original, signed Maurice Sendak poster, lend it to them. 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! Exposure in a public forum impacts value.

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 objects and one of those—and mixing them together. That’s not a collection, that’s clutter.

Value is not in the eye of the beholder. It is based on educating your eyeballs and constantly refining your collection.

Request an online appraisal of your antique from Dr. Lori.