A good way to get a sense of the value of a work of art is to find auction sales information on other works by the same artist, or for similar works of decorative art. In this case the best sources to start with are the electronic databases suggested here. If a database does not go back far enough, or does not cover the type of work you have, the print sources listed below may also be useful.
If you are seeking a conclusive value, a formal appraisal should be prepared by a professional appraiser. Scroll down to find information on assessing a work of art and finding an appraiser.
Comprehensive database of fine art auction sale results worldwide, from 500 international auction houses, since 1985. Search by artist’s name. Information given for each work includes artist, title, year, medium, dimensions, auction house and date of sale, estimated price and sale price. Includes color images of many works.
Clark Electronic Resource (in-library use only)
Database of auction sale catalog entries for antiques, art, and collectible objects. Includes color images of many works. Information includes artist, name of work, medium/materials, estimated price and sale price, as well as any other descriptive information that appeared in the sale catalog. Coverage is about the last 5 years.
Clark Electronic Resource (in-library only, ask for logon help)
International auction results with sales prices of Old Master, modern, and contemporary fine prints; decorative, historical, sporting, topographical, natural history, botanical, and Japanese prints; fine art, vintage, and film posters; illustrated books, Livres d' Artiste, books and periodicals with original graphics; Picasso ceramics.
Clark Electronic Resource (in-library use only, ask for logon help)
Art Sales Index. Phoenix, AZ : LTB Gordonart, Inc, 2010– .
Hislop’s Art Sales Index. Surrey, England: Art Sales Index LTD, 2003–2009.
Art Sales Index. Edited by Duncan Hislop. Virginia Water, England: Art Sales Index, 1984/85–2002.
The Annual Art Sales Index. Weybridge, Surrey: 1969–1983/84.
Title for this annual publication varies; most recently the spine title is Hislop’s Art Sales Index. An annual report on the results of public auction sales, mostly in Europe and North America, of paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, miniatures, and sculpture. Includes annual compilations of record prices, turnover, and works sold for more than £1 million. Covers 450+ auction houses, including many smaller venues. Entries include artist’s name/birth and death dates/nationality, hammer price, title/description of work, dimensions, whether signed and dated, date of auction, auctioneer’s name and place of sale, lot number and whether reproduced in catalogue, low and high estimate, and currency of sale and local price. Use for those years not covered by ArtNet.
Stacks N8640 A78 (Library has 1969–2001. Volumes after 1984 are in Offsite Storage.)
Gordon’s Print Price Annual. Phoenix: Gordon’s Art Reference, 1978– .
Annual record of prints sold at the most important European and American auction houses during the year. Includes sales of single prints, sets, pairs, portfolios, and “other groupings with cohesive sense to them.” In earlier years, decorative, sporting, and topographical prints received “cursory treatment” and were “lightly” represented. Later years include historical, sporting, topographical, botanical, and Japanese prints; fine art and film posters; illustrated books; artists’ books; and periodicals with original graphics. Entries include title, medium, edition size, date, references, measurements, whether signed, edition number, margins, and general condition. Sale information includes auction house, sale date, lot number, price in local currency, and price in U.S. dollars.
Stacks N8645 G67 2004 (Library has 1978-1991; 1993- 2009. Volumes after 1984 are in Offsite Storage.)
International Auction Records. Enrique Mayer. Paris: Editions Mayer, 1967–1994.
MAYER. Lausanne: Ed. Acados, 1995– .
Title varies. French edition called Annuaire international des ventes: peinture-sculpture. Current title merged with Livre international des ventes. Sales results of auction houses around the world, with 800+ auction houses from 40 countries; this breadth includes lower and middle markets as well as major houses and is more international than other similar resources. Works are arranged by category (prints, drawings, watercolors, paintings, sculpture, and photographs) and then alphabetically by artist’s name. Entries include artist’s name/dates/nationality, title of work, description of medium/watermark/edition/special editions, dimensions, catalogue raisonné reference, auction house, sale location and date, auctioneer, and sale price in local currency as well as Pounds, Euros, and U.S. dollars.
Stacks N8640 I575 (Library has 1967–2000; 2004. Volumes after 1984 are in Offsite Storage.)
There are several American appraisers' organizations; the two websites below are the two most comprehensive. Both offer a search page that allows finding an appraiser by specialtiy and by geographic area.
Before consulting an appraiser it is always a good idea to learn as much as possible about your work of art. Check the websites above to find an estimate of possible/comparable value, and consult the book below to learn how to evaluate your work of art.
American Society of Appraisers
"A multi-discipline non-profit international organization of professional appraisers (valuers). The mission of the Society is to foster the public trust of our members and the appraisal profession through compliance with the highest levels of ethical and professional standards." Click "Find an Appraiser" for a search page that allows you to find an appraiser in relation to your zip code and then by area of expertise.
Appraiser’s Association of America
Searchable database of member appraisers, history and mission of the AAA, and other resources, including an Object ID checklist and elements of a correctly prepared appraisal. Includes a search engine that allows searching for appraisers in given locations or areas.
Lanmon, Dwight P., compiler. Evaluating your Collection: The 14 Points of Connoisseurship. Winterthur, DE: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1999.
Chapters demonstrate ways to examine and “rate” an object, using the 14 points of connoisseurship: overall appearance, form, ornament, materials, finish, color, craft techniques, trade practices, function, style, attribution, history of ownership, condition, and evaluation. Concludes with a glossary and suggested readings.
Stacks NK1125 L35
Expert-reviewed, online marketplace for valuable fine art, antiques and collectibles. Each Lofty item is reviewed and valued by experts, including qualified appraisers, current and former auction house specialists, reputable dealers, and other art world professionals.