How much is my old painting worth? How to research, appraise, and sell, antique pictures, oil paintings, and prints

How to find out about your old painting

If you are reading this article, there's a good chance that you may have an old painting at home which is a treasured possession that you've owned for years. Alternatively you might be curious about something you have either inherited, or found in a thrift store, charity shop, car boot sale or junk shop. Maybe you have a work of art lying unwanted in the attic or garage, or stashed behind a wardrobe. Whatever the circumstance, the point is that you need to know more about your old picture or painting.

This article will attempt to give you some practical advice on researching and marketing an old work of art. The vast majority of these paintings, prints and etchings will have a relatively low market value, and may be tricky to sell, but don't give up just yet because there are many lost and forgotten masterpieces out there just waiting to be re-discovered.

Is it a watercolour, or is it a print?

Many years ago I bought a picture from a junk sale believing it to be a valuable watercolour. In fact it was only a print, but it was a very good one. To an inexperienced eye, a good quality print is often very difficult to tell from a watercolour, but there are some easy clues.

Important! Do not remove an old picture from it's frame as this can devalue the item

First, gently clean the glass with a soft cloth using a tiny amount of glass cleaner only if necessary. Next use a magnifying glass to look at the picture in greater detail. Brushstrokes are not so obvious on a watercolour as on an oil, but you should still be able to see variation in the surface of the painting. Some areas may be bare of paint altogether, or else be highlighted with a thicker layer of paint known as gouache, or body colour. Some artists also use a technique known as 'scratching out' where the surface of the painting is literally scratched to show the white of the paper. You may be able to identify pencil lines beneath the paint, and the picture may show signs of 'cockling' where the artist has made his paper too wet without preparing it adequately first.

If you are still unsure whether you have a painting or a print, look carefully to see if you can identify small dots on the surface. Printmaking has become increasingly sophisticated with the advance of technology, but early prints can usually be readily identified. If the picture is composed of tiny dots of colour it's extremely unlikely to be a watercolour. Check the signature, too, as a printed signature seldom looks truly authentic.

If your picture has a label on the back giving details of the title and artist, search on these details, and if you have a print of a well-known painting, you should quickly find it on line, and this will confirm that you have a reproduction rather than an original. Labels that give a museum name such as 'Museum of Modern Art, NY' or 'Tate Gallery' or ''Musee du Louvre' are a good indication that your picture is a print, and is likely to be a low value item.

Even if your picture turns out to be a print, don't despair. Try selling it at your local sale room or on e-bay. You never know. someone might just take a shine to it.

My picture is obviously a print, because it has a signature and a number at the bottom

If you have a limited edition print by a well-known artist, it will often (though by no means always) have a greater value than a genuine painting by an unknown artist. Never assume that all prints are worthless, as this is definitely not the case. Some very old prints and etchings are extremely valuable. It very much depends on artist, provenance, condition and rarity.

If you suspect you have such an undiscovered gem you should try to get an expert opinion. The earliest prints were usually either black and white, or sepia in colour, and these can be some of the most valuable. Early prints and etchings are an extremely specialist field, and only an expert can give you the right advice.

The earliest prints were made using a raised surface which could be inked. These typically included wood block prints, which are generally, far cruder and more simplistic than modern lithographic, or photographic prints. Some of the earliest woodcuts are extremely valuable because of their age and rarity. Many of these woodcuts are very, very basic, but often these are far more valuable than complicated lithographs created in more recent times.

Many early Japanese prints were created using the woodcut process, and these are highly collectible, even if the signatures are difficult for Western eyes to understand. Woodcuts were popular throughout East Asia well into the 19th century, and some of the earliest examples, printed on to cloth, are Chinese in origin. Oriental woodcuts were extremely popular during the 19th century, when they were imported into Europe in great numbers. To European eyes at that time they were not just exotic and different, they were something to be admired, and used as a source of inspiration. This can clearly be seen in the work of many of the illustrators and artists working around the end of the 19th century, such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, and Aubrey Beardsley, where suddenly, clean, uncluttered images became more important than the fussy, highly-detailed work of earlier European artists.

First of all, is it a genuine painting, or is it a print?

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Courtesy Wiki Commons
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Courtesy Wiki Commons

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Oniji Otani by Toshusai Sharaku (1794)

Polychromatic woodcut by Toshusai Sharaku (1770-1825). japanese woodcut, image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Polychromatic woodcut by Toshusai Sharaku (1770-1825). japanese woodcut, image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Highly collectible, hand-coloured political cartoon, 1806

'Visiting the sick' by James Gillray, 1806. Image cortesy of Wiki Commons
'Visiting the sick' by James Gillray, 1806. Image cortesy of Wiki Commons

My picture is a black and white print, but is unsigned. Is it worth anything?

Early prints come in many different guises. If your print is signed, and is by a well-known artist it may well be valuable. Equally, even if it is unsigned, but is of an interesting subject, such as a political cartoon, for example, it may well be of interest to a specialist collector. There are collectors who look out for pictures of all sorts of niche subjects including bridges, golf, horses, local scenes, botanical drawings, football, etc. etc. Because early prints are such a specialist area, you should have them valued or appraised by a professional wherever possible. Sometimes old prints come in very good quality frames, and these can also have a value., so it is always worth having them checked out. The print itself might be worth very little, but a lovely old maple frame, for example, can often fetch enough to make your efforts worthwhile.

An example of an etching by Goya

Goya, The Bravery of Martincho in the Ring of Saragassa (Tauromaquia 18) 1815-1816 Etching and aquatint, 245 x 355 mm Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Goya, The Bravery of Martincho in the Ring of Saragassa (Tauromaquia 18) 1815-1816 Etching and aquatint, 245 x 355 mm Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

I think my print is actually an etching, but I'm not sure what an etching is

Etchings are a specialised form of print-making made using a metal plate which is first given an acid resistant coating. An image is then scratched into this coating using needles, before the plate is submerged into an acid bath. The coating resists the acid except where the image has been scored through. The acid is able to eat the metal in the scratched out areas, leaving behind a roughened surface. The plate can then be inked up and pressed onto damp paper, which will draw the ink out of the indentations left by the acid. Etchings have been around since the 16th century, and many famous artists, including Goya and Rembrandt, have experimented with this art form. Because they tend to be produced by the artist himself rather than by an engraver or print studio, etchings are often more highly sought after. Etchings are considered to be works of art in their own right and attract higher prices than prints.

I think it's an oil painting

An oil painting can be created on board, on canvas, on panel, on paper, or even on ivory. Because they tend to be more durable, and less delicate than watercolours, they are not normally behind glass, although there can be exceptions to this.

Just as with any other piece of art that you are contemplating selling, it is very important to retain the original frame, unless specifically advised to do otherwise by an art and antiques professional.

A well executed oil painting will usually have a feeling of depth and often a softness about it that is the result of the paint being built up in layers known as 'glazes'. Modern day print techniques have become so sophisticated that prints on canvas are now available, and many of these prints even mimic brushstrokes. However, a close examination will soon sort the prints from the originals. Oil style prints have a very uniform finish, even the ones with fake brush-strokes. If you are still uncertain, examine the frame and backing for clues. A good quality oil painting will usually have an equally good quality frame. Older frames are often extremely heavy, especially when they are ornately carved, or have gilding over plaster moulding for decoration. Modern, re-production frames are usually lighter in weight and are often put together using modern techniques such as staple guns. When you examine the back of your painting look for clues such as old labels, and auction numbers. Chalked or pencilled numbers on the reverse of a canvas often indicate that the picture has been through one or more auction houses. Labels from framers or galleries are also good clues as to age and provenance.

Monogram of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Monogram of T W Wood, zoological illustrator

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Now I know it's not a print, how do I know who it's by?

Once you've ascertained that your picture is definitely not a print of a more saleable original, it might pay to do some further research. The most obvious avenue is to start by finding out who the artist is, and whether his paintings are successful in the salerooms of the various auction houses. To do this you need to check the artist's signature, and this is usually (though not always) in either one of the bottom corners.

Many artists use their initials, or even a monogram, in place of a full signature. There are good reference books available showing facsimiles of many thousands of signatures, and you might find one of these at your local library. Once you have an idea who the painter is, you can do further research on-line by searching for sales of the artists work. A short list of artists' monograms is available on-line here, and some artists' signatures may be seen here although these resources pages offer only a very limited number of examples. A good selection of artist's signatures can be found on You might also like to examine the signatures listed at, but you do have to pay to access their full listing.

If you are able to identify the sir-name of the artist, but don't have an initial, try comparing your painting with the work of other artists with the same sir-name by typing in the name and the word 'images' into your search engine. Another fantastic resource is the Public Catalogue Foundation's paintings web-site which has over 2,000 high quality images of paintings in public ownership in the UK. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, there are examples of work from artists from across the globe.

Auction houses and art researchers also use an excellent on-line resource known as The Art Sales Index which lists the hammer prices on paintings sold at most major salerooms. This provide a comprehensive reference source. If you follow the highlighted link, to this web-site you will find a wealth of useful information available free of charge. However, access to the auction price listings has recently been made subject to a fee. If you are researching several items, you may still feel it's worthwhile signing up to this website.

I have written about researching artists in much greater detail in an on-line article entitled 'Who is the artist of this painting' which you might find helpful.

I think it's a pastel, but I'm not sure what a pastel is

A Pastel is a pure powdered pigment mixed with a binding agent, and used in the form of a stick, or a pastel pencil. The pigments used to produce pastels are exactly the same as those used in any coloured art media, from water colours to oil paints, and consequently pastels often produce very intense, vibrant colours.

Pastels have been around since at least the 15th century, and many famous artists have used them to great effect. The French Impressionist artists, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir both produced wonderful examples of this art form.

An artwork made using pastels is called a pastel (or a pastel drawing or pastel painting).

The two most commonly found forms of pastel drawing are made using either soft pastels, which have often have a chalky, dusty appearance, and oil pastels which are shinier, smudgier, and often bolder in colour.

Pastels are generally more delicate than paintings or other forms of drawing, and need to be handled with great care. Soft pastel drawings can shed dust long after they are first produced, and should always be stored upright. A professionally framed pastel will normally have a spacer between it and the mount, to allow for any loose dust to settle out of sight. The spacer will only be very thin, so you might not notice it immediately, but if your pastel drawing does have one, it's a sign that the picture was considered worth giving extra attention.

Pastel drawings by the right artist will often be more highly prized than ordinary drawings, or indeed, watercolours.

I think I've got a valuable painting. Where can I sell it?

The most famous auction houses in the world are probably Sothebys and Christies. You might also have heard of Bonhams, or DuMouchelles, or Susanins, but aside from the big boys of the auction world, there are any number of small, local salerooms who will be happy to dispose of your treasures.

How to sell at auction:

If you have researched your painting, and are satisfied that it is reasonably valuable, then you need to approach an auction house. Search on-line by keying in the name of your city or area, then adding either 'antiques auction' or 'antiques saleroom'. Alternatively use a telephone directory, or Yellow Pages, to locate your nearest sale rooms, or telephone Directory Enquiries. If you live in or near a big city, there's a good chance that you will be spoilt for choice. Ask if the saleroom specializes in paintings. If the answer is no, then you might want to keep trying until you find an auction house with an experienced art expert on board. If you do indeed have a valuable painting on your hands, then a reputable auctioneer will be only too pleased to help you to get the best price for your item. Auctions normally charge a commission fee for their services. This is generally between 10 and 20% of the hammer price, and the more your item sells for, the more commission they will earn.

Selling on e-bay

Paintings do sell on e-bay, but ask yourself this. If you were a collector, would you risk too much of your hard-earned money on a painting you have never seen in the flesh? Unless you are selling a more contemporary painting, or a lower value item, I would personally prefer to try a formal auction house first.

Selling to a dealer

Again, this is a tricky area. Some dealers are both knowledgeable and fair. Some are not. The dealer has a living to earn, overheads to cover, and all stock is an investment in time and money. You can't blame them if they seek to take advantage of an innocent punter. Or can you? Many reputable antique galleries are happy to buy your valuables. You are taking a chance that they are giving you a reasonable sum, and they are taking a chance that they are investing in something that will sell. Clearly you must use your own judgement here. Never be afraid to haggle with a dealer, and you can always take your item to more than one.

Comments 106 comments

Diogenes 6 years ago

Interesting and timely, Amanda. But the greatest work of art is your new profile picture! I'm in love! Bob x

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you very much for an in interesing information which you don't very easily get. When I try to find out about various object it seems a bit a closed door.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Bob, thanks for the compliment. The new pic was taken on board a boat in Shoreham harbour. I was overdue a change. The old one was taken on the webcam, and they're never that great. x

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi hello,hello. You're so right. These things are always made out to be such a mystery. Most of the information is available, but it's not always easy to track down. Feel free to e-mail me if you think I might be able to help.

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Wow, thank you so much for shareing this hub with us.Godspeed. creativeone59

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

You are a fount of knowledge when it comes to art, Amanda and I always enjoy your hubs. Lynda

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Lynda, it's good to see you here as always. I'm always looking for new ideas to write about, but I mostly come back to art. I guess it's easy to stick with the things we know.

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Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Creativeone, thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Georgina_writes profile image

Georgina_writes 6 years ago from Dartmoor

Another really intresting hub - not the usual run of the mill stuff. Enjoyed it very much. rating up.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Georgina, thank you for the compliment. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

amillar profile image

amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK

I'm just off to look through my closet Amanda - I'll see you in the Bahamas.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Sadly my closet is bare, but there's always the attic! Hmmm.

AlanZimmerman profile image

AlanZimmerman 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

There are so many remarkable stories of normal folks finding really valuable art. I wish I could be so lucky, but I guess I'm not complaining.

This is a great hub, and a lot of excellent tips and pointers. I have bookmarked it as reference, should I happen upon any oil paints in my uncleaned cellar :)

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Here in Europe, many amazing pieces of work went walkabout during the second world war, and it's not unusual for these treasures to turn up in the most unlikely of places. Also, some artists never make it during their lifetimes, but later on they achieve a posthumous fame that suddenly lifts their paintings into a whole new bracket. I should definitely check that cellar if I were you!

knell63 profile image

knell63 6 years ago from Umbria, Italy

Hi Amanda, a great read, sadly there are only dust bunnies hidden beneath my bed. But you just never know where you are going to find something.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Neal, there's only dust bunnies under my bed, too, but I love it when I watch the Antiques Roadshow and some unsuspecting punter gets a genuine surprise....

BrianS profile image

BrianS 6 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Hi Amanda, We were left a couple of paintings recently and one of them features a grandmaster of the Freemasons from around a 100 years ago in Cardiff, which gives it a little added interest. Not sure we want to sell them but it would certainly be interesting to find out if they have any value.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Brian, portraits tend not to be of great value unless they're of someone very attractive or someone famous, however, the freemasonry connection will probably generate a little extra interest. Do you know who they are by? Feel free to e-mail me if you want any help researching them.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

What a great guide you've written! Very informative and written with style. :)

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Tom, thanks for stopping by. It's always good to see you here!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Voted up. I love this. I have 2 old oil paintings but I do not think they are valuable, just to me. I am linking this to my hub about how to value and sell antiques in general. If that's okay.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi Dolores. Please do use this as a link, and if you post the link to yours here in the comments, I'll transfer it to the text.

Cheers, Amanda

Kristie 6 years ago

I have an oil painting from antique old masters. The artist is Maraini dated 1892. I leave in a small town, and I was wondering how much it could be worth. Who or where would be a good place/person to contact?

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Kristie, you don't say which country you are in, but I'm assuming you may be based in the USA? I have done a quick check on the name 'Maraini' and it is possible that you have a painting by Adelaide Pandiani Maraini (1843-1917). If you do not have an auction house close to you, you might try taking a photo of the painting and e-mailing it to an auction house in a larger town or city for their advice, or take advice from an on-line auction service such as Worthpoint (see the first video clip above). Good luck with your search.

sol 6 years ago

Hello amanda-

i have several old painting and i dont even know where to sell it? any advice from you.? Ingwersen, fragonard, e.hale, m.storm, albo,tanber. thank you for your help

amanda severn 6 years ago

Hi sol, you don't say where you are based, and obviously different countries have different opportunities for selling. The name that immediately jumped out from your list is Fragonard. An original Jean-Honore Fragonard from the 18th century would certainly be valuable. I recommend you take them to an auction house in the first instance, and if that is impossible because of distance, you could investigate using a specialist on-line auction, or e-mailing photographs to a reputable auctioneer for their advice. Good luck with your research.

vzen profile image

vzen 6 years ago

I am so happy I found this hub! You are obviously very well versed and informed. Thankyou.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi vzen, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope it's been helpful.

GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Amana Seven,

Oh, what great and useful info. I have a painting I love from my GG Mother and this is on my list to find out.

Thank you very much!

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi GmaGoldie, I'm glad the advice proved useful. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Manna in the wild profile image

Manna in the wild 5 years ago from Australia

Nice info.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

You're welcome Manna in the wild. I hope it was helpful.

anderson_weli profile image

anderson_weli 5 years ago

This is a great hub,good good........

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for the compliment anderson_weli, and thank you for your comment.

siobhan martin 5 years ago

my family has inherited a painting by Alex Campbell of George Washington on horseback. It is painted after a sketch by C. Shepherd. It is numbered and appears to be original. Where would I start on getting more information on this?


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Siobhan, if your picture is numbered it is quite likely to be a good quality print. There was a mezzotint (a type of print) of George Washington by this artist sold at auction in January 2009, and the picture can be viewed here:

I hope this helps.

SUSANJK profile image

SUSANJK 5 years ago from Florida

Thanks so much for this informative hub. I have some paintings that I am curious about that I have inherited an dont know an history. I will use this advice.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi SusanJK. Good luck with your research!

rembrandz profile image

rembrandz 5 years ago from Dubai Media City

Thank you for the great hub Amanda. I have got back into making my own paintings and putting up in shows after a decade. I was just wondering how to value my own paintings I have done more than 15 years ago....this read was sure very useful.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi rembrandz, as an artist myself, I can identify with the problem of what to do with 'old' paintings! I expect my kids will probably have a bonfire of all my old sketches and paintings when I'm no longer around! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Amanda, I used to look for art in antique shops and second hand stores, because I don't like prints and couldn't afford anything else. I bought a huge oil painting for $4 from a junk man that was so dirty I couldn't tell what it was. I had it cleaned and immediately started getting calls from people who wanted to buy it. I finally had it appraised. Suffice it to say, my children will be well provided for.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Fay, that sounds like an amazing find. Who was the artist? There are a lot of very important paintings out there that have gone missing over the centuries, and every so often a real gem turns up. You are very lucky.

marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC

Thanks for this helpful Hub Amanda Severn. Voted up and useful. I am going to examine my old pictures.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Good luck Marsha. There are many lost masterpieces around waiting to be re-discovered. You just never know!

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Joe, you might find the following links helpful:

Certainly the first painting that you mention is by a listed Danish artist with many paintings sold at auction. My advice is to seek out your nearest reputable auction house and request a professional appraisal. You may be able to do this on-line in the first instance, but for a realistic valuation, the appraiser will need to see the paintings in person. Good luck.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Joe Giannino, I don't know whether you have been back to this hub to read my response, but this is to let you know that I have now deleted your comment to protect your privacy, as you have included a phone number.

smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 5 years ago from all over the web

very nice information to have when our economy is such as it is. thanks for the hub.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, smcopywrite.

Obscure_Treasures profile image

Obscure_Treasures 5 years ago from USA

Very helpful hub!

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Obscure Treasures

Fastest Car Rider profile image

Fastest Car Rider 5 years ago from California

Simply Wow...

I am newbie here I hope You make my stay nice here

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Rayann 5 years ago

hi we have 2 mathcing paintings they are in really old frames with glass they are not signed or dated but in there original frames they have the old pegs in the back and i can see the brush strokes, my grandmother had said she had gotten them from her mother whom had them hanging in her house when she was a younin im just wondering if there is any way to determin whom they are by or the value!

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Rayann, these pictures certainly sound as though they might be original. You need to get them professionally appraised. If you live in or near a big town or city, search the internet for your nearest auction house or salerooms. Many auction houses are happy to give an initial appraisal by phone or via email, but they would need to see the actual items to give a true opinion. Alternatively you could use an on-line appraisal service. Good luck with your search!

wilrhoades profile image

wilrhoades 5 years ago

Interesting hub. Glad to find lots of information here.Good to learn more things from this hub. Thanks.

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Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Wilrhoades. Glad you found the information useful.

carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

WOW Amanda what a brilliant hub!! it was great to read. though i dont own any such painting my self it was a wealth of info. thanx again and voted up


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Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK Author

Hi Carrie, glad you found some useful info here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

buckleupdorothy profile image

buckleupdorothy 4 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

Fantastic - interesting and clearly explained. Voted up!

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Amanda Severn 4 years ago from UK Author

Thank you for the compliment Buckleupdorothy. I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Bradvv60, this article is intended as a guide to help others research their own items. Research of this nature is time-consuming, and requires a lot of patience and perseverence. I have sometimes helped people out in this way, but on this occasion, I'm afraid I must decline. There are a number of on-line appraisers who specialise in undertaking research for a small fee. You might try one of those, or alternatively research the picture yourself using the tips outlined above. Without actually seeing the item, or at least an image of it, it is almost impossible to give accurate guidance. Good luck with your search.

westhighlandart 4 years ago

Amanda gives great advice, some of which is in my new book The Art Hunters Handbook. (See it on Amazon.) We also offer tips on how to find valuable art at garage sales, flea markets and thrift shops. In 2011, Alison Beldsoe bought a painting by Fern Coppedge at her hot dog stand which we helped her sell at auction for $30,000. The art is out there. Let us help you find it. (Don't overlook weird modern art, some of which is worth a fortune.) We offer free art appraisals (for original oil paintings) on our website at Share your discoveries with us. You may be in the next edition of The Art Hunters Handbook!

sharonecali 4 years ago

I recently stumbled across a website that buys old paintings from the 13th-19th centuries. They offer free appraisals based on past auction results. I found this particular website to be useful and informative. It is at least a good starting point for determining the value of an original masterpiece:

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Sharonecali, thank you for posting this. I will leave your comment here for anyone to see that might be interested, but I would caution anyone who is contemplating using this site to also contact one of the large well-known auction houses for their advice. As you know, anyone can set up a site like this, and the kind of paintings listed can literally sell for, thousands, tens of thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is very easy to check on past auction results, so no-one should put their trust in an unknown web-site without doing some research first.

Catine48 4 years ago

Simply great information with honestly and directness.

Finally, free to search my collection of old paintings I

collected over the years, at estate sales, etc. etc.Missed

my position at Original Gump's in Jade Room and Oriental

Antiques, when we dealt with selling to Museums and Collectors

all over the world, My fight for Organic Gardening and such

was great, but I missed the Fine Arts, so over years, would

sit down and simply look at the wonders humanity created

and that satisfied me, with a joyl

I loved them all but now? Must move onward...this was a great

insight for a new start. Thank Youl.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Catine48, thank you for your great comment. The arts are certainly addictive, and once you develop a love for art, you never lose it. I'm glad you found this hub helpful, and good luck with researching your art collection.

cmaycraig 3 years ago

Hello Amanda! I am new here and glad I was able to find you. Your knowledge on this subject is astounding! I was wondering if you could perhaps assist me in finding someone who can authenticate a James Ensor painting I have. It's a small oil painting on paper. The internet doesn't really have any images of Ensor's works unless it's the very famous Christ Entry into Brussels. I'm even considering sending it to his museum in Europe but of course that entails so many would-be disasters. Please point me in the right direction. I live in Austin TX. Thanks so much!

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Amanda Severn 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi cmaycraig, how wonderful to have a work by James Ensor! I don't think you need to send your painting to Europe for authentication. If you could get it to a high end auctioneers such as Sothebys or Christies you should get all the help and advice you need. There are examples of James Ensor's work in museums in the USA, most notably in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, so I'm sure there'll be plenty of positive interest once you have had this work authenticated. Good luck!

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Amanda Severn 3 years ago from UK Author

Richard, you e-mailed me via HubPages to ask if I could help you with regard to an oil painting by C. Zimmermann. I don't reply to personal e-mails as this in turn reveals my private e-mail address, so I hope that you return to this article. This page is not intended to be a consultation site, but rather, a guide for you to do your own research. I did , however, quickly check the Art Sales Index, and found only one painting by a C. Zimmerman (only one 'n' at the end) and this was sold at Christies in New York in 1988 for $1,000. Researching old paintings can be quite time-consuming, and this is why most appraisal sites charge a fee for their services. If you are unable to undertake your own research for whatever reasn, I always recommend that you approach an auction house that specialises in art, and ask for their advice. Alternatively, you might try posting an image of your painting on a web-site such as WebAnswers where there are people waiting to give advice for free.

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Amanda Severn 3 years ago from UK Author

To the reader who recently e-mailed me via hubpages regarding a recently acquired horse picture, I do not offer a valuation or appraisal service, and most of my best advice regarding research is included in this article or in it's companion article 'Who is the Artist of this Picture?'. Please follow the advice detailed above, and if you are still needing help, I can recommend the Webanswers web-site.

Dawn Ca 3 years ago

Hi, I recently came across 4 pieces of art that I would like to research. Not knowing where to begin, I got on the computer. I found your page very interesting and I want to thank you. It gives me a place to start.

One of the pieces is a tin replica of the Lords supper, It was handmade in England. In one corner on theback is an indented stamp that says "ELPEC" made in england. I would appreciate any comments anyone has. ... Thank You

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Amanda Severn 3 years ago from UK Author

Thank you for your positive feedback, Dawn Ca. I'm glad you've found some useful information here.

I haven't come across ELPEC items before, but I did manage to find out the following on-line: 'The ELPEC Company was registered in 1919 by C E Pascal & P Lloyd. It was initially a brassfounders and then specialised in reproduction copper and brassware'.

If you go on to ebay you may well find, as I did, that there are examples of ELPEC brassware such as toasting forks etc. I also came across some pictures made by ELPEC, and I wonder if these are the kind of thing you have? Good luck with your research, and thanks for commenting.

DRG Da Real Grinc profile image

DRG Da Real Grinc 3 years ago from All over the USA

I use to own that Goya etching. It's from "La Tauromaquia" A bull fighting series Goya etched. The whole collection is awesome to view. Good research. I think you should mention engravings. Engravings came before etchings when acid was not being applied thus making it a greater task to scratch an image unto a surface. Engravings are worth more because they were harder to make and of course older.

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Amanda Severn 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi DRG, Thank you for the excellent suggestion. I will definitely put something in about engravings. It's amazing how many times I've reviewed and tweaked this hub, and yet that never occurred to me!

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Amanda Severn 3 years ago from UK Author

Louise Dariphane,

I do not offer an appraisal service via this web-site, and I have deleted your comment as it includes your personal email, which I believe you might wish to keep private from casual readers of this article.

It sounds as though you have done some research on Ensor yourself, but realistically, without a signature, it may be difficult to prove the link. It's possible that a previous owner of the painting also thought it was Ensor's work, and 'attributed' it by writing the name on the reverse. Without seeing the painting I can't comment on it, but if you are convinced that there is a possibility that you have a genuine painting by this artist, you might try contacting the James Ensor Online Museum, and asking for the contact details of an expert on Ensor.

Good luck!

TreasuresBrenda profile image

TreasuresBrenda 2 years ago from Canada

I'm an eBay seller who does not know much about art. I am trying to learn a bit. I believe that there is a market for interesting pieces that are not necessarily very valuable but that are unique. People are looking for pieces with which to decorate their homes that are affordable and different than what is easily accessed in the market.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Brenda, you're absolutely right in your idea that people are always on the look-out for interesting pieces that don't necessarily have high values. My advice to new collectors who have lots of taste, but not too much money, is to buy the things they like, that give them pleasure, rather than be too concerned about investment value. A really good place for new collectors to start is at local art exhibitions. There are some fabulously talented amateur artists around who don't have a gift for self-promotion, yet turn out some amazing work that can often be bought for very modest sums. Good luck with your ebaying. You'll learn so much from researching the items you sell, that you'll soon be an expert!

SusannaDuffy profile image

SusannaDuffy 2 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Great advice here. I've found out that my paintings aren't valuable! No worries, I just like the look of them on the wall

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Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Susan, sorry to hear that you haven't found an undiscovered old master, but glad that you still love your paintings. I'm a great believer in enjoying art rather than fretting about its value. Sometimes people get lucky and find that the well-loved picture on the wall is actually very valuable, but this is a comparatively rare occurrence. Most original works of art in circulation are by amateur artists, or artists who are relatively unknown outside their local area. This doesn't make them bad paintings. It just means that they're not yet on a collector's tick list.

JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 2 years ago from Jaipur

I own several oil paintings and this article will help me in evaluating those. Thanks for a nice article with magnificent photos.

Rated up and useful.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Jyoti. I'm glad the article was useful.

Moktar Msi profile image

Moktar Msi 2 years ago from Djibouti, Djibouti

thank you for u telling interesting historic

OhMe profile image

OhMe 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

Very interesting and helpful. Thank you. I keep thinking that surely something I have around the house has got to be worth a lot. I love to watch Antiques Roadshow and see the expressions when people find out something is of great value.

GClark profile image

GClark 2 years ago from United States

Excellent article with lots of helpful info. Plan on rereading this a couple of times to make sure I haven't overlooked anything.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Moktar Msi, OhMe and GClark, thank you all for visiting this article and leaving such kind comments. I hope you found it useful. I also love seeing surprised people on the Antiques Roadshow, OhMe. How wonderful to discover something of great value amongst your household knickknacks!

Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

I find this very interesting, even though I have neither painting nor print. One does not need to own either to learn, and we should all be open to learning.

AaronBurton profile image

AaronBurton 2 years ago from US

I don;t have any paintings...yet haha

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Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Blackspaniel1. Very wise words - we should always be open to learning.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for stopping by AaronBurton. If you love art, as I do, paintings on the wall will always bring pleasure.

Mary Bickle profile image

Mary Bickle 2 years ago

I have an oil painting, that I know nothing about. I bought it at a flea market because I'm very intrigued by it. I just don't know how to find information on it.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 2 years ago from UK Author

Does it have a signature, or any labels that might give a clue? Many paintings are created by amateurs, or less-well known artists, and even when they are of a good standard they often have a low value because there are no collectors desperate to own them. If the painting gives you pleasure and you're not too concerned about its value, just hang it on the wall and enjoy it. If, however, you bought it as in investment, you can either research it yourself, or else take it to an auction house for their opinion. Good luck!

Kristi T 23 months ago

Hi Amanda: I have an original oil painting that my mom bought in the 60's in great condition in beautiful wooden original frame. The artist's name is 'W. Scheermuni'. Have you ever heard of that artist before? I would like to sell it and want to see how much it might be worth. It is a portrait of an older, bearded man with a sad look on his face. The dimensions are: 20 inches by 24 inches (in the frame). By the way, I live in NY. Thanks for any information.

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Amanda Severn 22 months ago from UK Author

Hi Kristi, I do not offer a valuation service I'm afraid. The artist that you mention is not one I've ever heard of, and a search on his name draws a complete blank. It doesn't even appear to be a real sir-name. I wonder if perhaps you've misread the sir-name? The quickest way to search for listed artists is to go on Blouin's Art Sales Index website. The vast majority of known artists whose works regularly pass through auction, are listed on that site together with auction sales values. I've just tried searching on Scheermuni without success, but you might want to have a look for yourself to see if any of the names listed are similar. Realistically, its almost impossible to value a painting without seeing it, and if you are in a big city, there is likely to be a number of auction houses and art dealers locally who will be prepared to give an opinion. Good luck!

Dante petrucelli 21 months ago

Ok. I have a problem with a painting that a friend's family has. The painting has been kept in horrible conditions . In a house of a smoker without a frame and was torn in a move. There is a black flim over the whole painting. This was an early work of a living artist which his paintings are selling for tens of thousands of dollars. I saw a 30 in by a 30 in painting sold for 38,000 dollars. The good thing is a copy of the painting is hanging somewhere important like the UN or somewhere. I got in touch with the artist and he remembers the painting and wanted to get it back. I may be able to buy the painting but there would have to be an extensive restoration on it. Also the size of the painting is Hugh in comparison to the ones that were sold by the artist. 6 foot by 6 foot. The story behind the painting was where ever it's hanging right now it was contracted for him to do it for them and I guess a picture was taken of the original. I know all this to be true through conversations with the artist. So what's it cost to restore? The fact that this is so much bigger and hung somewhere will make it more valuable? Any help moving forward would be great. I skimmed through this page so hope this applies. Are u available to work with?

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Amanda Severn 21 months ago from UK Author

Hi Dante Petrucelli. This is a fascinating story, but unfortunately not one I can help you with, firstly because I am based in the UK, and secondly because restoration is not my area of expertise. As a first step you could identify a professional picture restorer who might be prepared to take on the work if you were to buy the picture, and get an estimate. Picture restoration does not come cheaply, particularly when there is damage to the canvas, so you need to be sure the investment will not exceed potential profit. Sorry I cannot help you further, but good luck with this enterprise!

Dante petrucelli 21 months ago

That's a great help and starting point. Ah, I didn't know you were in the UK. Thank you for the reply. Are you able to tell me if larger by the same artist and same medium means more expensive painting just based on the size?

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 21 months ago from UK Author

In general Dante Petrucelli, larger pictures have a greater value when by the same artist. The difficulty arises when you start to get extra large paintings. Even when the artist is highly sought after, an outsize painting can be a turn-off for many would be buyers. Not everyone has large expanses of wall to fill. However, if the painting is particularly attractive, and the artist is unusually collectable, then you can still do well, but as with all these things, its hard to predict.

Renee Kraft profile image

Renee Kraft 18 months ago

I found a large sketch of a man in the attic of a 200 year old church ... How do I find out who he is

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Amanda Severn 18 months ago from UK Author

Renee, researching pictures takes a great deal perseverance. A sketch of a man in a 200 year old church might presumably have been left there at any point in the church's history. I imagine that it might be a picture of someone connected to the church, but you provide so little information that it is almost impossible to make any helpful suggestions. If it is a framed picture, then it is possibly of someone notable, or at least of importance within the church community. Maybe a cleric, or perhaps a generous member of the congregation. Good luck with your search.

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Amanda Severn 14 months ago from UK Author

Hi zhzh, unfortunately I have had to delete your comment as you included an email address, which anyone reading this page could use. As I have said before, both in the article, and elsewhere in these comments, I do not provide a valuation service. Please follow the advice provided to assist you with doing your own research. As Giovanni Guerzoni is a listed artist you should be able to find examples of his work on the Blouin Art sales Index site. Once you have established whether the painting might be of value, take it to an auction house that specialises in art, and seek further advice. Good luck.

john544 11 months ago

Can someone help with some paintings that I just inherited . One is signed by Stanford Its i believe oil on board. its a picture of a boy/girl and a cat.

bady souayah 11 months ago

عندي صورة زيتية أريد معرفة قيمتها الفنية والمادية

Steves Cortina 3 months ago

Hi Amanda. My mother passed awy earlier this year and as agreed I have inherited one of her paintings. It was an odd one, as my father and mother painted it in the 60's while they were still married. During the 60's, my parents used to sell oils down the Bayswater Rd and were also exhibited in one of the London Galleries. This painting however has never been seen by the public as far as I know. It is unframed and measures approximately 6' X 4' and features a stone bridge in the Lake District. I would like to insure it, but have no idea how to get it valued without incurring a cost (at present unemployed). It is a beautiful painting using a mixture of pallete and brush which gives it a lovely depth. Can you advise me on what to do next please. Steve

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Amanda Severn 2 months ago from UK Author

Hi Steve, your picture sounds intriguing, and it is obviously a family treasure that you would not wish to part with. If you wish to insure it, you could get an ad hoc, verbal valuation from a local auction house. This is unlikely to cost anything, but you should check with the auctioneer first. Written valuations are a different matter, and are likely to cost money, often a straight percentage of the total projected value. Find out from your insurance company exactly what information they need. They may be happy to accept a few photos, and a general estimate so long as the value is not in the tens of thousands or even greater! Good luck.

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Amanda Severn 2 months ago from UK Author

Hi GenAllen, thank you for your email. As I have mentioned in the comments above, I do not offer a research service, and this article is intended to point you in the right direction to do some research of your own. Art research can be a lengthy and time-consuming process which is why you are unlikely to get someone to do it without making a charge. However, auction houses will often offer you advice for free, based on the premise that you will very possibly then allow them to sell your items.

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Kelly Samons 6 weeks ago

Hello i have a painting that ive had for years its in a beautiful frame that looks really old the back of the painting dont have anything on it the front has a signature ive tried to look up the name but nothing comes up its not a full name its the painters initial then the last name its a painting of an old man that looks like he is from the Renaissance the name on it is N.Green if you could help it would be much appreciated thank you

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