EVALUATING ART – Marilyn Armstrong

In the course of time, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Much of the stuff is old Asian art — mostly  Chinese and some Japanese porcelain from Han to Qing dynasties.

I have no idea what it’s worth.

I think Tibetan – Hard to know dates on bronze pieces
Buddha, Tibet, probably 18th or 19th century

I didn’t buy it from major art houses and much of it has no provenance, so I have no way to prove where I got it … with a few exceptions that I got through the Chinese government agency and it has a number and a label. But these are small pieces and not worth huge amounts of money, or at least I don’t think they are.

Lots of pieces, many Chinese, some modern artist
Crica 1965 Wedgewood

But it has been years since I got them and prices have changed dramatically. I also have some nice original paintings – watercolors and oils. These, except for one which was a wedding gift, were bought from galleries. Again, all were bought at least 20 (or more) years ago, so I have no idea what they are worth or if they are worth anything. I didn’t buy them for their art value. I just liked them.

Cast iron Scotties (1880ish?)
1800s cast iron elephant

I guess what I need is an art evaluator to come to this house and look at all the pieces and give me an estimate of their worth. I know that places like Sotheby’s do this, but they tend to be low-ball estimators because they are looking for pieces that can resell and the less they pay you, the better for them. On the plus side, if you can reach an agreement, they take the stuff away and you aren’t left with figuring out what to do with some really fragile, delicate artwork.

Japanese pre-WWII tea set — I think

Even my son pointed out that I have some pretty nice art hanging on the walls and I said I didn’t think it was worth much since with a few exceptions, none of the artists was or is famous.

Qing dynasty rice bowl, typically used by field workers. The blue chicken is a cultural thing. The bowl is almost 200 years old — and it isn’t even close to my oldest pieces of pottery.

I could be wrong. I could be very wrong. I could also be absolutely right and what I’ve got are some pretty pieces that aren’t worth much. I have no idea.

I don’t even know enough to take a good guess. A lot of my Chinese stuff I can’t find out about because all the books about it are in Chinese. Asian art only became valuable recently.

Han pot (I had two, but I gave one away)

For years, it was considered junk by the Chinese who were convinced that anything old was worthless. Eventually, over the past 20 years, they have re-evaluated that opinion for which I was grateful because they were using crushed ancient Han pots to build roads.

Sui dynasty musicians. These are very old but have been restored. Restored pieces are much less valuable than originals

So here’s a question: do any of you know any art evaluators who I could enlist to help me figure out what I’ve got? Please, if anyone knows somebody who knows somebody who might be able to help me make some kind of estimate of what this stuff is worth, please be in touch.

Two Acoma seed pots

I’ve always been under the assumption that it isn’t worth much, but so many people have told me I’m wrong, I have to assume maybe they know something I don’t know.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

24 thoughts on “EVALUATING ART – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. That looks like a fabulous collection, but I know nothing about Chinese art. We have a television programme in Britain, perhaps you have a similar thing, Antiques Roadshow. They visit a different place each week, usually a stately home and queue up with a family heirloom or piece they bought years ago and have it assessed by experts. Of course viewers at home learn lots and might spot a treasure like theirs. Hope you find help with your collection Marilyn.

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  2. Marilyn try the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute Artifact Appraisals. (si.edu) They say they don’t give a monetary value to artifacts but there are a number of other sites that they mention who do.
    Your collection is lovely, don’t underestimate its value.
    Leslie

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    1. The dolls are the hardest things to find homes for. No one wants “used” toys. You can only give away cheap plastic toys in sealed containers. So I have no idea what I will do with them. I know a lot of collectors, but they all live far away and have no way to basically come ane get them. I could fit them easily into the trunk of a medium size car.

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  3. I agree. Go on line and do some research and find an evaluator who is close and who has good reviews. Museums and art galleries sometimes have such folks, but the honesty factor might be a consideration..it’s hard to know whom to trust these days. I have a similar problem in a much smaller way. I have three bronze sculptors – all religious in nature – and I don’t need them as much as I need the money. I know the artist personally. The one I want to keep I helped design, so it’s never going. The other two I’d sell in a flash for the right price. There is a consignment shop right here in town, but the proprietor of that shop blew me off. Someone suggested selling on eBay or the local KSL.com but the cost to ship those things and make sure they didn’t arrive broken is daunting and not something I want to attempt. Keep us informed about your success. I suspect you have some priceless treasures there!

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  4. My parents had many antiquities: books, China, glasswear, pewter … but i’ve moved around far too much to keep anything.
    I appreciate it, but I don’t acquire.

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  5. You do have some lovely things, Marilyn. I’d love to see them in person. I think that a museum might be able to point you in the right direction as to what might be valuable. I imagine that auction houses also have valuers and could arrange a sale but the fees and charges would have to be covered by what you made from the sales. If it is mostly about finding good homes for everything selling to collectors via an auction house would be worthwhile. People tend to value things they paid good money for. However, it would be nice, if you are going to let them go anyway, for you and Garry to get a little cash bonus out of it and not be ripped off by paying exorbitant costs.

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  6. I can only underline what your friends already said. I also found that when I buy something, it’s dear and when one needs to sell, it’s worth nothing…. depends also on the ‘time’, fashion (think shabby chic in furniture), even on the country, in England, I could buy English stuff such as pewter teapots and hotel silver reasonably affordable, in France (in my Paris region) everything is ridiculously expensive, in Switzerland people are often happy to let go of good stuff. I picked up from a low wall on my way to the shops a bunch of really nice children books which I then gave to my niece for her local Kindergarten – but often nobody wants to take things on because space is such a premium! I really do hope for you to find a solution, and I can say from my experience that it is also freeing to ‘get rid of’ many of my possessions. But you need to make some money of them, so hopefully you know a trustworthy art dealer not too far away from your home. Fingers crossed.

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