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"I have this picture...."


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I've had quite a few calls lately from people who want to know how much their "picture in a frame" is worth. They always spit out the name of the artist, and apparently trying to sound smart, whatever numbers they can find on the thing - sometimes they are dates, sometimes LE numbers. Usually they can't tell if it's a painting with brushstrokes or a print.

I even had one the other day that gave me the artists name, years he was alive, and then told me that at the bottom of the piece there was a line that read "Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 21 - July 19" -- it was a little hard to explain that it was obviously a poster sold in the gift shop at the museum while there was a show going on of the artist's work.

I get the feeling that too many people have been watching antiques roadshow over the winter and are hoping that every piece of "art" they buy at a yard sale or find in their attic is going to be a huge treasure.

I explain to them that I can't really tell them much if I can't see it, and that really to get the information they want, they'll need to talk to an art appraiser. For some reason, that always stops them in their tracks, and they hang up - sometimes politely, sometimes not.

Anyone else getting a rash of these calls?
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SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
At least you get CALLS!! They lug the ugly things into my shop!! :(

I think they have the misconception becuz we deal with art .....we
are art appraisers.........:faintthud:

What I think its worth and what an appraiser sees......is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!
Sometimes I think they are just looking for a cheap (FREE) way to know the value.......TIME WASTERS!!!!!!!!
I usually sent them to an APPRAISER! or Antiques ROAD SHOW! ;)


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I had one come in with a "Picasso" she wanted to sell. Her x-husband paid a fortune for it for a present because she loved chickens.

The cert. on the back said form the estate of....the front was signed something similar.

It is in a "beautiful" plastic moulding with acrylic glazing and paper mats!


couture's gallery

PFG, Picture Framing God


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I have had quite a few of those (and they also ask if I want to buy it off them or sell it for them).

The funniest one so far though is from an older guy (older to me anyway, he was in his mid 50's) who came in with a little print. He said that he had an antique/junk shop and bought this print and was wondering if I knew who it was done by and if it was a real painting (he thought it was). I was able to tell him that it was a lithograph of a Salvador Dali and that no, it wasn't original. He then said "Who is that?" I replied "Who, Salvador Dali? He's a world famous artist." He asked me where he could find more information about Dali. I pointed him to the nearest public library.

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Tell them to check EBay. Most insurance agents use that for current value unless a professional appraisal is done.


WOW Framer
Years ago, one of my customers came in with a pastel
that she paid $100.00 for at a local thrift shop. She wanted
me to cut out one part of it to frame. I suggested that she
try to find out what it was worth before doing anything so
drastic. She did, and was thrilled to learn that it was worth
around $3000.00. This estimate came from Butterfield &
Butterfield, and she shipped it off for their auction.

When I asked her later how it had gone, she said that
it hadn't sold in the auction. But Butterfield & Butterfield
sent her a bill for something like five hundred dollars,
to pay for just having been in the auction. When I heard
that, I stipped recommending them. Have any of you
ever used such an auction house?


Angry Badger
But Butterfield & Butterfield
sent her a bill for something like five hundred dollars,
to pay for just having been in the auction. When I heard
that, I stipped recommending them. Have any of you
ever used such an auction house?
Your customer either wasn't disclosing all they knew or they had failed to practice due diligence when consigning the piece to auction.
The contracts from all the major auction houses clearly spell out the financial responsibility of both the consignor and the consignee. There are listing and handling fees as well as the percentage of realized sale from both buyer and seller.
I wouldn't stop suggesting sending items to auction houses based on this one person's experience. It seems obvious that they were trying to deflect the blame rather than take responsibility for the decision to use the services without fully understanding what they were committing to.

As to the subject at hand. Yes, we get people wanting to know what their treasure is worth. I have cards of an art appraiser and just hand them one of those.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have had quite a few of those (and they also ask if I want to buy it off them or sell it for them).
I've had several of those too, although with the new location it's easier to say no since they can plainly see there is NO wall space. (Assuming they come in, and don't just call.)

I have a couple pieces here now that the last owner took in on consignment and still haven't sold. The few I have are local artists - a Leslie Cope and few Gene Chases (the Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon - it's huge, but the owner won't take it back, and a bunch of matted prints that Chase's daughter put on consignment of local buildings - they're good, but I haven't sold one in two years.)

But then again, I can't get rid of the stack of posters, or the framed art that's been here since I bought the place!


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
There are a lot of desperate folks out there right now. In some cases they are considering selling a family "heirloom," which is usually a print that has been in the family a while. The word has passed down a generation or two about how valuable it is. Occasionally I see a print that might have real value, but usually not.

Yes, these folks are wasting time, but I consider it a kindness to let them down as easily as possible if I know for sure, and refer them to a certified appraiser if I'm not.

The world will surely change, and this year's pauper could be next year's art collector.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I get these regularly, but thankfully not too often. And it's true that the 'Antiques Roadshow' and other progs of that ilk have a lot to answer for.
I usually respond with something like - "It's worth precisely what someone is willing to pay you for it. No more, no less". They can't argue with that.
If they want to sell it, I tell then to take it to a local auctioneers. (Or put it on EBay)


WOW Framer
Wally, thank you very much for taking time to answer my
question. This lady was highly accomplished in some ways,
but a total 'on another planet' flake in others. She's the only
one I ever did that with, and so I've hesitated ever since.
One bummer about where I live is there aren't licensed
appraisers around. And any antique dealer will probably tell
them a third of what they would sell it for in their shop.

Your answer is somewhat of a comfort. I'd rather think
it was her being scatterbrained than them being
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