Art appraisal is a very tedious process. In fact, aside from professional experts, the average person doesn't truly understand the scope of this process. This fact often leads to a number of misconceptions, particularly for the novice art collector. An appraiser is the only one who can give you an accurate assessment of your piece; however, being able to discern fact from fiction can help at least clarify things for you and give you a better idea.
There Is No Value Without A Signature
In the world of art collecting, a signature on a piece gives it a certain level of uniqueness and authenticity. While it wouldn't be unfair to say that a piece from an acclaimed artist with a signature is more valuable since it is basically an autograph, the lack of a signature doesn't mean that your piece isn't worth anything.
In terms of value, the rarity of a piece often supersedes a signature. For instance, a piece that is one of only two in the world would likely have more value than a piece that is one of ten-thousand that happens to have a signature.
Dead Is More Valuable Than Living
There is a common thought that the value of a piece is higher when the artist has passed away. This idea is both true and false. When it comes to a specific piece, you have to ask yourself just how valuable the piece was before the artist passed away.
An artist that wasn't acclaimed or in-demand while they were alive likely wouldn't have a substantial increase in the value of their work after their death. However, for an acclaimed artist who is in-demand, it would be more likely that the value of the piece would significantly increase. Track the previous value history of the piece first.
The Older The Piece, The Better
Another misconception is the idea that the older a piece is, the higher its inherent value. Make sure you understand that the value of artwork is most closely related to its demand. Take two pieces from the same artist, with one being 10 years old and the other being only 6 months old, for instance:
If the 6-month old piece is in greater demand, it may very likely have a higher value than the 10-year-old piece. Don't let the age of a piece cause you to over- or underestimate its value.
The more you are able to dispel fact from fiction, the better you can assess the value of your artwork. For help with determining the true value of your artwork, contact an organization like the Chicago Appraisers Association.