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March 23, 2018

Estate Artwork

The best clue for determining if your estate contains valuable artwork is the way in which the art work is framed.  No one puts expensive artwork into a cheap frame (at least no one who knows what they have). Of course, it’s possible to find cheap art in a nice frame, but it’s unlikely.

If you don’t know anything at all about a particular work of art, take a photo of it and go to images.google.com. Then, drag the photo file to the search bar and Google will search for the image. Your search results will bring back information on your particular image.

If you don’t know anything about art in general, you can learn a few basics in this article that I wrote for antiques dealers a few years ago in Antique Trader Magazine.

Here are some highlights of that article. Remember, this was written for antique dealers:


Often, people refer to any framed artwork as a “painting”. We know that that’s not the case. Too many times, I’ve been baited into surveying an estate by the promise of a great collection of “paintings”, only to find a collection of worthless, poorly framed poster prints. Here’s how you can identify a painting: it has paint on it. Duh. If it doesn’t have paint, it’s not a painting. The public perception is that paintings are more valuable than prints. As we shall see, that’s not always the case but all things being equal unsigned estate paintings can be priced higher than similar prints.

4 Types of Prints

The ready availability of four-color offset lithography has given art prints a bad name. I have often admired a nice artwork only to have my host apologize and say “it’s just a print”. Really? I would love to have a thousand-year-old Japanese woodcut, a Rembrandt etching, a Chagall lithograph, or a Warhol serigraph; all are prints. Prints can be a real moneymaker if you know how to correctly identify them.

Dealers should be able to know the difference between and correctly identify the following: woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, and serigraphs (I’m counting giclees as a type of serigraph). Trust me, this isn’t hard to do. A detailed explanation of each technique is beyond the scope of this article but detailed explanations and demonstrations can be found by searching Google and/or YouTube for each technique. You will be rewarded for your effort.

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Originally posted 2013-03-03 17:32:00.

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About Wayne Jordan

Wayne Jordan is a Virginia-licensed Auctioneer (#3481), as well as an AIA and CAGA Certified Personal Property Appraiser. Learn more at http://www.resaleretailing.com/wayne-jordan-auctioneer-appraiser/

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