Providing values for artifacts, except for insurance purposes, is not an ethical museum practice. Donors who seek values for prices should contact a licensed appraiser.
If you are donating work and need an appraisal for tax deduction purposes, we can work with you in making appraisal arrangements as well as developing a donation receipt and donation letter. Please note that the donor will be responsible for the cost of the appraisal.
The Indiana Historical Society has a listing of appraisers on their website. To see this list click here.
The American Society of Appraisers also has a searchable database for accredited appraisers. You can find out more here.
Before you contact an appraiser take a good look at your work of art and see what clues you can find! Every artist signs and labels their work differently. Below are just a few ways to get started.
Do you know the artist or title of the work of art?
Keep an eye out for old exhibition labels or tags which are often attached to the back. Sometimes artists will write important information such as the title or their name on the back of the artwork and/or the frame. The image seen below contains all three: old exhibition label and name, title, and date written on both the back of the painting as well as the frame.
Is the work of art signed?
Signatures can often be found in the bottom left or right corner of a painting. Sometimes painters will also include the date after their signature as seen in the image to the left: “Stella Coler 53.” Prints are commonly signed on the right. Pottery or sculptures, on the bottom as seen on the right image of a wooden bowl .
What can a print tell me?
Prints often contain three vital pieces of information written just below the image and traditionally written in pencil. The first piece of important information is the number of prints made in an edition. For example, 1/30 means this is the first print of a limited edition of 30. This is traditionally written to the left. Sometimes a print will not have numbers but the letters “AP.” This means you have an artist’s proof. An artist’s’ proof is the first test print to see the current printing status of the plate.
Another important piece of information is the title. This is often located in the center between the edition number and signature. Sometimes this is flipped with the edition number and located to the left, as seen in the image below.
Third is the artist’s signature which is commonly found on the right. There is no wrong or right way however to provide all of this information and these three pieces of information might be in a different order or not even present.
Is your artwork possibly a giclee?
Sometimes giclees will be made of a work of art and can be very deceptive but more affordable. This article written by Russell Tether Fine Art Gallery, explains the giclee process and how to look out for these types of prints. Giclee’s can be made from paintings and all works on paper. They can be printed on various formats including canvas.